It was just before 8 a.m. when the alarms at the City of West Haven Fire Department, Allingtown went off. A major structure fire was underway. Sara Potter, just 18 years old, a first-year fire science major, got up and quickly donned her fire gear.
She is the first female student to live and work in the firehouse as part of a unique four-year-old internship program in which UNH students assist career and volunteer firefighters in the firehouse. She studies in the bunkhouse and is starting to become part of the very fabric of the place, a kind of brotherhood/sisterhood that Potter said pushes her through all of challenges the field can pose.
“Whether they are UNH students or people down at the firehouse, when it’s time for business, I know that every single one of them has my back and wouldn’t let anything harm me,” she said. “It’s a giant family.”
Firefighting is practically part of Potter’s DNA, and she said she is grateful for such hands-on learning. “My family loves that I’m a firefighter/EMT because pretty much all of my family does it,” she said. “I volunteer because I love helping people in my community and protecting them to the best of my ability.”