To most people, someone who would drop everything and help a perfect stranger would be considered a hero, or crazy. All over Pennsylvania hundreds of thousands of volunteer firefighters respond to their community's emergencies, day and night, and for nothing more than the satisfaction of helping their neighbors. Pennsylvania has the largest number of volunteer fire fighters, and I am proud to consider myself one of them. Someone may call them their hero, I call them my family. There is a special type of camaraderie between Fire Fighters, especially volunteers. The commitment, sacrifice and love for the art are what sets volunteers apart from the rest. A lot of times people do not understand what a volunteer fire fighter goes through, I can only describe it as a NASCAR driver, racing 24 hours a day and not getting paid.As for me, my journey as a volunteer fireman began at an early age. My family was always a part of the fire service and I was introduced to it by spending time with my cousin at the firehouse. Being around the men there, and seeing their passion, I fell in love with the idea of giving back to my community. Ever since then I counted down the days until I came of age to join my local fire company. Beginning at an early age it gave me a new respect for what these men and women do, and I helped out around the station and at calls as much as I could. At first I couldn't do much, but as I became older and took more classes I eventually became part of an elite and respected part of the community.
For the past four years I have been training and taking classes at Bucks County Community College alongside people form not only my station, but stations all around Bucks, Lehigh and Montgomery counties. Most of these men and women have full time jobs and families on top of these demanding classes. I became accustomed to getting home from school, doing homework, shoveling down what ever I could find in the refrigerator and going off to school again. Often the classes went to eleven or so at night.
Some people may find it strange that my biggest fear isn't being injured on a call. My biggest fear is in fact, pulling up on a scene of an emergency and not being able to help someone. That helpless felling is something every firefighter is terrified of. That I feel, is why I press myself to learn everything I can, and I'm sure the rest of my company thinks the same way I do.
I encourage anyone, who even has a slight interest in the fire service to contact their local company, and set up a tour of the Fire House, and meet the men and women who are protecting you and your loved ones. Who knows, maybe you will fall in love the same way I have.