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A “Family” When He Most Needed It Most:

Blenheim Volunteer Firefighter Anthony Siciliano Reflects on the Value of Volunteering  

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Blenheim, NJ–(CNBNEWS)-- At the age of twelve, Anthony Siciliano (photos) lost his father. It was devastating. Despite the support of his mother and sisters, Siciliano yearned for a father-figure – not to replace his dad – but to help guide him in those transformative years. The Blenheim Fire Company firefighters provided that needed support, as Siciliano often found himself in their company at numerous firehouse events with his grandmother and uncle, both volunteers. Soon, Siciliano became a Junior Volunteer at the Bellmawr Park Fire Company from age 14-18. The experience, he said, was “transformative.” Despite a hiatus from firefighting, Siciliano knew he would return to service. In 2019, he purchased a home in Blenheim not far from his childhood home, and joined the Blenheim Fire Company, where it all began, in his greatest time of need.

“Being a Junior Volunteer changed my life,” Siciliano said. “It gave me purpose and something to be proud of. I made friends that gave me the support I needed. Even today, volunteers at the fire Blenheim firefighter cropped department are like family.”

In addition to camaraderie, serving his community – where his family has ties since the 1920s –  is paramount for Siciliano, and it runs in his blood. His uncle is now the commissioner at Blenheim Fire Company. His grandmother was active in the Ladies’ Auxiliary and two more uncles served as volunteer firefighters. 

Siciliano’s return to Blenheim Fire Company was “a call to arms,” he said. “Blenheim is the smallest town in Gloucester Township and the fire department is really struggling for volunteers. A lot of the residents are older, and the younger ones tend to come in, rent, and leave. They don’t have the same push to help the community and we’re trying to change that.”

The training to become a firefighter, Siciliano shared, is intense, time consuming, and can be a deterrent for prospective volunteers. But, he said, the payback is great. “The people. The feeling of service. The training. There are huge benefits to being a volunteer firefighter.”

Siciliano says the training he’s received to fight fires and intervene at emergencies, transfers to everyday life and to his profession as a mechanic, now a supervisor for the New Jersey Department of Transportation. “You learn so much, and you also learn how to work under pressure and how to cope with grave circumstances. You learn how to be the level-headed person to victims and families in need. It’s very rewarding.”

When Siciliano reflects on his firefighting service, he does so with great pride and gratitude. “Becoming a volunteer firefighter changed the direction of my life. And it still does. The fact that I came back to Blenheim Fire Company after all these years is, in great part, because of the impact that my former fire chief, Harry Moore, had on my life says a lot. I want to help him at Blenheim now. I want to help him grow the volunteer base, and to help the community. I want to give back.”

Blenheim Fire Company is one of four, with one mission, in the Gloucester Twp. Fire Department; others include Chews Landing, Erial, and Glendora. Volunteer opportunities include Volunteer Firefighters who put out active fires and respond to emergencies, and Junior Firefighters (age 16-18) who assist firefighters at the scene of emergencies and develop skills for future service. All equipment, gear, and training are provided for firefighters and junior firefighter at no cost.. For additional information and to sign up to volunteer, visit: https://firefightersofgloucestertwp.org/

The Firefighters of Gloucester Twp. recruitment campaign is made possible by a grant from FEMA.

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