IAM Volunteer Firefighter Rescues Trapped Children

IAM Local 1746 member Regan Toomey, a volunteer firefighter, charged into a home to save four children trapped after an explosion.

Regan Toomey is no stranger to volunteering. The IAM Local 1746 (East Hartford, CT) member gives countless hours as an IAM Organizer and Training Representative at Pratt & Whitney.

But for the last 10 years, Toomey has also been a Volunteer Firefighter for the Ellington Volunteer Fire Department, a job he loves. He credits the fire department for giving him experience and training that goes hand in hand with his duties for the IAM members he helps daily.
Recently, that training was put to the test.

Regan Toomey

Toomey was one of the first responders to a call for an explosion that leveled a home in nearby Vernon, CT. When firefighters arrived, three people had managed to free themselves from the demolished home, but four others—all children—remained trapped.

Toomey and members of the Vernon, Tolland and Ellington Volunteer fire departments crawled into the building to rescue those inside after hearing screams from the rubble.

“Their actions saved lives,” said one Vernon police lieutenant. “It is truly a miracle no one was killed inside this house.”

All seven sustained injuries, and two of the children were hospitalized, but all have since been released. Investigators are blaming the powerful blast on a propane leak, but haven’t determined what caused the gas to ignite.

“Thankfully everyone involved is safe,” said IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President Jim Conigliaro, Sr. “Brother Toomey exemplifies the best of the best in the IAM. Volunteering as a Steward, Organizer and on the front lines in the community as a fireman. We salute him, and all of our members who give their all day in and day out.”

Toomey is quick to point out that his efforts were only a part of much larger response.

“Every one of the first responders knows their job, and when the time comes, no one person does it alone. Together, as a team, you swing into action,” said Toomey. “Dozens of my fellow firefighters from Vernon, Tolland, Ellington and the surrounding area were on the scene, as well as the Vernon Ambulance Staff. Working to support one another as a team enables us to protect our families, friends and neighbors.”

“I’m not at all surprised by Brother Toomey’s involvement in the successful outcome of this tragic accident,” said District 26 Directing Business Representative Everett Corey. “Regan brings the same type of dedication to the IAM as he gives to his community as a volunteer firefighter. He is a go-to guy when it comes to our organizing efforts, with an ‘I want to do more, can do, will do’ attitude that gets things done.”

Toomey won the Firefighter of the Year award in 2010, which is given annually to an Ellington Volunteer Fire Department member who has gone above and beyond the scope of their normal fire department duties.