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Troy Dare Celebrates 20 Years of Installing Dry Hydrants through the Rural Fire Protection Program

By: Luke Rackers, August 25th, 2018.

        I recently visited with Troy Dare, Program Manager for the Rural Fire Protection Program, on a beautiful Vermont summer day to talk about his 20 years of leading the program. Conceived as a way to help protect rural communities, Troy has installed nearly 1000 dry hydrants in 235 towns across the state.

        Troy started the Rural Fire Protection Program in 1998 as the Dry Hydrant Grant Program through the Resource Conservation and Development Council (RC&D). Troy beamed as he described building the program from the ground up as a student and young professional. “When I started the Dry Hydrant Grant Program in 1998 I was fresh out of college and it was the beginning of my professional career in Civil Engineering.  It was proposed as a 5-year program, and when I tell people that we just rounded out year 20…they are blown away that it has lasted that long and has been as successful as it has.  It’s exciting to know that I have been here since minute one and that I am a big part of its continued success.” 

        When the RC&D dissolved in 2013, Jill Arace, Executive Director for the Vermont Association of Conservation Districts (VACD), seeing the long-term value of this program in helping conserve the state’s natural resources, enthusiastically welcomed Troy and his work into the organization. “Several conservation district board members served on the RC&D Council and wanted to see this important program continue after the Council closed its doors. RC&D offered to make a significant donation to VACD to cover the costs of transitioning the program, and the Vermont Division of Fire Safety also wanted a local organization to manage the program, which provided a large benefit with a relatively small budget. Most importantly, Troy was a highly-regarded one-man show, successfully managing relationships with local fire departments and town staff, designing projects, overseeing installations, and completing paperwork … so how could I refuse?”

        With Jill’s help, Troy renamed his initiative the Rural Fire Protection program and expanded the work to include cleaning out fire ponds, updating hydrant heads, and providing new parts to upgrade existing systems. Troy says that the transition has been a positive one for both him and the program as a whole. He laughed as he described his biggest challenge dealing with all of the new paperwork required to operate the program through VACD. “I tell people that VACD “saved” the program from extinction, kept it alive, and has allowed it to evolve to where it has as much, if not more, momentum as it ever had in the past.  Jill was/is very great to work with and very instrumental in all aspects of the program.  She was able to soak up the history and function of the program as I “shovel fed it to her” before the VACD took over, and helped me, the VT Rural Fire Protection Task Force, and Rural Fire Protection clients across the state adjust to new ways of managing the program.”

        To date, Troy has helped install nearly 1000 dry hydrants in 235 towns and communities across the state. His goal is to install dry hydrants every 3 road miles in order to help minimize shuttling time for firefighters. The faster firefighters can access water, the faster they can extinguish the fire, as Whitingham dairy farmer Linda Corse experienced first-hand when her barn was struck by lightning, “This is such a great program. We have experienced up close and personal how important a fire department having adequate water is. I still remember hearing someone say, as I stood watching our barn burning, that they were out of water and had to go find more! Happily, they did and all ended relatively well.”

        Troy noted that the greatest peace of mind comes when a dry hydrant is installed within 1000 feet of a structure. This allows firefighters to pump water directly from the dry hydrant rather than having to fill the truck and shuttle it down the road. A dry hydrant within 1000 feet may also give property owners an opportunity to lower their fire insurance premiums. While ponds and lakes are the best locations for dry hydrants, Troy is increasingly installing through wetland areas in rivers and streams. This has increased the required permitting but he says the extra effort is worth it to make sure Vermonters and our beautiful natural landscape are protected. 

        I also visited Troy at the Vermont Statehouse in February where he was advocating for his program, an annual activity for him, and representing the Rural Fire Protection Task Force, a steering committee of volunteers and a coalition of firefighters working to improve fire safety throughout Vermont. It was amazing to see the support that these partners were giving to Troy’s work and the sense of camaraderie around this work. Troy noted with pride that his most important accomplishment has been helping to protect and serve local firefighters. He gives them credit for all their hard work and the daily sacrifices they make to protect communities. 

 

“Since I’ve been doing the program from the beginning, even though people have always come and gone from fire departments and town positions, some people I’ve known and worked with for almost 2 decades and a lot of these people I consider friends just as much as clients.  I’ve watched their kids grow…and they’ve watched me grow in my position. Vermont Firefighters, in particular, are ready to put their lives on the line to save other people along with their homes and businesses etc.. I pride myself on knowing that the grant funds and services I provide to them via the RFP Program make that job quicker, easier, and safer.”   Troy Dare

Program Manager, Rural Fire Protection Program

        As we strolled through Montpelier’s Hubbard Park with Troy’s 8-month old daughter and Rocky the dog, it became immediately clear that Troy loves his work and has found his calling in life. What started as a college project has evolved into a robust program that will help protect Vermont lives and landscape for many years to come. Troy has affectionately become known as the “Dry Hydrant Guy.” His continued dedication to protecting Vermont’s natural resources through fire safety exemplifies the best of VACD. Congratulations on 20 amazing years and we hope for 20 more!

The Rural Fire Protection Program is funded through the Vermont Department of Public Safety, town appropriations, and the Vermont Department of Forest, Parks, and Recreation. Troy’s program gives grants directly to towns and fire departments while working one-on-one with landowners to install and service dry hydrants. The mission of the Vermont Rural Fire Protection Task Force is to improve the safety and welfare of Vermont communities by assisting local fire departments in reducing the risk of injury, loss of life, and damage to property and natural resources. For more information please visit the RFP Program webpage or contact Troy Dare.
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