RUMFORD – Dressed head to toe in firefighting gear, Jeffrey Stetson was ready to do his part at Tuesday night’s disaster drill at Rumford Hospital.
It didn’t matter that the 5-year-old Andover boy had his yellow firefighting boots on the wrong feet. He was ready.
“His little heart was beating 90 miles an hour, he’s so funny. He was so excited, he got his boots on the wrong feet,” said his mom, Amy Stetson, of Andover, while she helped Jeffrey change the boots.
Standing beside his sitting mom, the boy watched Rumford and Mexico firefighters standing by on Franklin Street after the hospital was “evacuated” for a simulated chemical spill.
Shortly before 7 p.m., radio scanners erupted with disaster drill traffic from Oxford County dispatchers and emergency responders.
Jeffrey Stetson was primed. He knew it would happen on Tuesday, his mom said.
“He’s been looking forward to it. Honest to God, we don’t miss many. We have a scanner and he tries to attend them,” Amy Stetson said.
The youngster, who said he might be able to get AirPak breathing gear when he’s 15 and a junior firefighter, said he’s attracted to a variety of firefighting tasks.
Unabashedly, he said, “You get to drive firetrucks, you get to put out fires, you get to chop the windows with an ax, but you can use a crowbar for the windows if an ax doesn’t work.”
Oh, and fire poles. He likes to slide down fire poles, mom said.
“He’s been right into this for five years. He got a firetruck and a fire suit, and he visits all the local fire stations. He’s been to Portland, Lewiston, Auburn, Andover, Bethel, Mexico, and Rumford,” Amy Stetson added.
While he couldn’t get close to Tuesday night’s action, disappointment didn’t cross the boy’s face. It was lit up by flashing red lights and an ear-to-ear toothy grin.