Franklin firefighter Tony Lauinger joined the Franklin Fire Department on Jan. 4, after working with the department the previous four years as a paramedic with Seals. “I fell in love with the job and the brotherhood everyone in the department has,” Lauinger said.
On just his second day of work, Lauinger found himself on the scene of a large fire that destroyed two businesses at 191 Commerce Drive on Jan. 6. Nobody entered the building to fight the fire due to safety concerns, but firefighters had to endure temperatures that were about 10 degrees below zero. Lauinger has never been inside a burning building, but has participated in a simulated fire. A room made of solid steel walls and floor simulated the heat that would be felt in a fire, while the flames were controlled mechanically. He’s been on the scene of a burning building, but from a distance as an EMT.
“I’ve seen them from the ambulance, but never on the attacking side of things,” Lauinger said. “I’m definitely not a person that wants to sit back and watch things happen. I want to help.” Lauinger found his current profession by accident.
He was attending the Herron School of Art and Design at IUPUI and took an elective class teaching people how to work as an EMT. From there, he was hooked on finding a way to help people. When people have to call 911 its probably one of the worst days they’ve had, Lauinger said. “I love helping people on their worst day, seeing that look of hope on their face that you’re going to help their situation.”
Almost every day Lauinger goes through a training exercise. He’s practiced walking through a dark room to simulate the visibility inside a fire, while performing more simple tasks, such as hooking equipment up to the fire engine.
“I get advice from the other firefighters every minute of the day, 24-7,” Lauinger said. “Theyre talking to me about worst-case scenarios and how to handle them.”