Firefighters in Fire Trucks Getting Ice Cream – Chief Peter Van Dorpe

Van Dorpe relays a riveting story about one of his most memorable fires

By Jesse Quinalty

In the pilot episode of Firefighters in Fire Trucks Getting Ice Cream, I have the pleasure of grabbing some ice cream with Chief Pete Van Dorpe, fire chief (ret.) of Algonquin Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District in Illinois. He previously served as the director of training for the Chicago Fire Department. He is also a director-at-large for the International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI) and a member of the advisory panel for the UL Firefighters Safety Research Institute.

Van Dorpe and I were both teaching in Saint George, Utah, for the Winter Fire School, so we cruised over to the Iceberg Drive Inn cruising in a brand new Rosenbauer Commander Rescue Pumper owned by the Layton City Fire Department.

We already had several antique fire engines set of for the first few episodes, but were actually having some issues finding an antique fire apparatus that we could use in Utah. Then the fire chief of Layton, Kevin Ward, tells us that he had a brand new engine in the exhibit hall that we could borrow. We were blown away.

One of the most riveting stories in the first episode is when I ask Chief Van Dorpe “What was one of your most memorable fires?” He tells a story about a time when he was a younger firefighter on an extra alarm for a fire in a row of taxpayers. His engine crew was assigned to the adjacent unit to check for extension when the conditions changed rapidly and they became disoriented. His senior firefighter was able to think through the situation and follow the sound of a phone ringing to safety. Van Dorpe said that without that knowledge, they would have run out of air and died.

Watch that full conversation below. (Yes, our conversation was so great, we had to make it a two-parter.)

Van Dorpe, Part 1

Van Dorpe, Part 2

About the author

Jesse Quinalty is a master instructor and the owner of Red Helmet Training, which houses four classrooms and a command training center in Southern California. He specializes in company officer training as well as table-top and digital fire simulations. He is a captain with the San Bernardino County (California) Fire Department, working in Division 6, and was the operations and training captain at his previous department.

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