NEWS, SPORTS, COMMENTARY, POLITICS for Gloucester City and the Surrounding Areas of South Jersey and Philadelphia

Ruth Cleary Owner of Short Stuff Store; Member of WOW, Haddon Heights Resident for 46 Years
Welcome To Gloucester City Founded in 1623

Volunteer Firefighters urged to Become Active Members

Fire News NJ Editorial


The past month has been a difficult one for the volunteer fire service. Newsday, a Long Island newspaper, has been running articles that have twisted facts, which are depicting the fire service in a negative light. Slow response times were blamed for two fatal fires, when in fact the delay was a direct result of a four-minute hold up by the homeowners in reporting the fire. In New Jersey, a three-alarm blaze ripped through five multi-family homes. Fire officials are blaming this tragedy on cuts that forced the closing of two Bayonne firehouses. In New York City, eight children lost their lives in a tragic fire, despite a four-minute response time by the FDNY. A closer look at this fire revealed that space heaters were being used to heat the home, no working smoke detectors were present, and the occupant called her husband before she called 911. This reminds us that response time is not always the determining factor at a tragic fire. 

Let's face it, the fire service does an excellent job in protecting life and property. Unfortunately, we are not perfect. When we deal with factors that are out of our control, we cannot expect to win every battle. However, the fire service does perform its duties well, despite cuts in funding and in some cases negative representation from the media.

What can we do to insure the continued service that our department provides to our communities? The answer is to be an active, keyword ACTIVE, volunteer firefighter. According to Dr. Harry Carter, MIFireE, CFO, an internationally known municipal fire protection consultant, author, lecturer, and veteran New Jersey fire officer, "Studies by the National Volunteer Fire Council speak to the fact that volunteers are a resource that must be nurtured and supported." Dr. Carter believes we must act now and strengthen our volunteer fire service.

Spring is a time of rebirth. The flowers are starting to bloom, the grass is starting to turn green, and fire departments are once again becoming visible to the public. We should encourage our neighbors to stop by the firehouse to see if they may want to become part of the organization. Company officers should be encouraging their members to respond every time that they hear a call. Every call? Is this possible? It has always been my practice that if I am home or within my community and my pager goes off, I simply go to the call if I am able to. No excuses! We volunteered to be firefighters and EMS responders. Despite what anyone else might think, our community and our department need us. Let this spring be the starting point to rejuvenate our commitment to our department. Do not worry about what others in our department do. We can make a difference in our department by setting examples for everyone to follow us. Do not let the lack of motivation be the reason that the media uses against us when the occasional call does not go the way we would like it to go. Our supporters on Capitol Hill are fighting a constant battle to make sure we have the tools needed to protect our community. We need to join them in promoting the fire service by making sure that we are active members in our department.