Rob Laplaca crawled through a tight space to the end of a Weston basement. A raging fire waited for him. He and his partner opened their water hose onto the inferno. But it didn't go out right away.
"You're really hoping everything you learned kicks in," Laplaca remembers of that night. "I'm going, 'I wish this would stop soon, because I'm getting hot, I'm kind of tired."
Eventually he was reassured that water extinguishes fire, and the event became another notch on the belt of this volunteer firefighter .
"It can happen at any time," Laplaca said of getting called out to a fire. "Sometimes it's bad timing, but my wife is pretty understanding about it."
Laplaca moved to Weston 15 years ago with his wife, Christina, a psychologist who was doing post-doctoral work at the Veterans Affairs Center in West Haven. The couple has two children, Will, 12, and Carolyn, 11. In 2000, Laplaca started at Levett Rockwood in Westport, where he still works as a lawyer.
After five years of office work, his desire to give back to his community inspired him to volunteer. "Everybody has to do something in a small community to contribute," he said. "You just got to chip in in a small town to make it work."
In addition to his basic volunteer service, Laplaca also organizes the fire department's annual open house in October during Fire Prevention Week. "We have handouts for the kids. They get to see all the trucks, and we show them how to use a hose, show them the different equipment," he said.
He also runs the explorers program which aims to interest high school students in volunteer service. Participants go through a scaled-down version of the training that Weston volunteer firefighters go through. "We have a handful of kids, but not enough," he said. His own kids have expressed interest in the program, and Laplaca said that he is eager for them to become old enough to participate.
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