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Captain, Engine Company 5


Roger Martin has been called a Renaissance man. He’s been a filmmaker, boat captain, musician, architect, carpenter, and plumber. And for more than 20 years, he’s been captain of Pumper 5 in Provincetown’s East End. Like other volunteer fire fighters here, he’s ready at a moment’s notice to drop whatever he’s doing and answer an alarm. At 85, he’s not ready to stop. 


Almost immediately after I moved to Provincetown, I joined the Provincetown Volunteer Fire Department. That was in 1982.


The house I bought on Cook Street is about two blocks from Pumper Number 5, Engine Company 5 on Commercial Street. By September I had become a member of this firehouse. It was sublime. We had a full house of lots of members. I've been the captain now for a long time. This is my 41st year in the department.


I don't find it stressful being on call. I have a scanner in the house. There's a quite loud tone that comes out, an alert, DA EEEE eee beep, beep, beep, something like that. I could quickly jump on a bike and ride downhill to the fire department and be as often as not the first responder to take the truck out.


The high wind situations that we have sometimes today and all these wooden houses bundled together, that's the fire danger here. When there's a real fire and a fire scene, you can't help the adrenaline rush. It's very exhausting. The turnout gear is heavy. Breathing through a breathing apparatus is stressful.


The future for the department now is very uncertain. Provincetown is no longer an all-volunteer fire department, mainly because of the demands on a rescue squad. You can't believe the number of times rescue has to respond to an incident -- every day, hour after hour, bicycle accidents, people breaking their leg climbing over the breakwater. It just goes on forever.  


I'm 84 now. I'll turn 85 in the end of November. Luckily for me, I am in good health, and my mind seems to work okay. I'm very fit <laugh> actually. I assume if all regulations get followed, all the standards of traditional paid fire department, I will have to retire.


I don't wanna give it up! I love being part of this organization. I'm a captain, so I still have a command position, and I'm extremely good at running the pump on the truck.


I would call the fire department a family, yes. My family!  We're trained with certain skills, and we enter dangerous situations together. You put your life at risk and your buddy. You can't be a slouch. You can't be lazy and fat and soft to do this job.

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