Volunteer Firefighting | Teen Ink

Volunteer Firefighting

October 17, 2008
By Anonymous

Some people say that it's the most bravest thing that people could ever do. Run into a burning building when everyone else is running out. Others might say that you have to be born crazy to do half the things that those men can do. Of course, there's those people who say it's outrageous to let females do the job of a man. I think that they're all wrong. It's not that we're brave to do what we do. It's not that we're crazy to do what we've been doing. Anyone of any sex or color can do what we do. It's a unique hobby- saving lives and risking our own, even though we do not get paid to do so.
I've been a junior firefighter for about three years or so now. But I've been around it since I was in a diaper. My family thinks I'm nuts for doing it, being the youngest at my station, let alone being a female. I don't care, I just think of it as being different. My friends at school think it's pretty cool to have a friend who's involved with the fire company. I just think of it as one of my favorite past times, although there are a lot of downfalls to being in the fire service. Since I'm only fifteen, I like to go out with my friends a lot, but that's hard to do when my schedule is always full.
I go to school five days a week. Every Monday I come home, do whatever homework that I have, take a nap until dinner is done, and then head to the fire house for the rest of the night. I'm there from 6:30p.m. to around 10:00p.m. On Saturdays I work from 7:00a.m. to 3:00p.m. and then I go home and get ready to go to the fire house to work the kitchen for Bingo. I'm there for about seven hours, and then by the time I get ready for bed, it's close to 12. I go back to work the next day and come home and sleep all day. So, I have to sacrifice a lot of my time to the fire house, and it tends to make my friends angry with me. I try to explain to them the best that I can about why I can't be with them, but they don't understand. They just tell me that the fire house is my life, but sadly they're right.
We do a lot at the station. Sometimes I think we do too much in just one night of work. In the summer, every Monday we go out to the nearest lake with our closest fire company and practice with the hoses and filling the trucks up with water. Other Monday nights we use the ladder truck and walk all the way to the top onto the school in our township. In the winter, we clean the trucks 24/7. People tell us that we have the cleanest trucks in our county, but I just have to laugh. The only reason why we clean them so much is because of all the parades we attend throughout summer and fall. In the month of March we attend the Jim Thorpe St. Patty's Day Parade. This is the only parade that doesn't consist of judging. We just load up the trucks and head into town with about twenty or thirty other companies throughout the area. We have tons and tons of fun. June is the busiest month for parades and fire company dedications. There's about three to five parades and about three dedications. For a township this small, that's a lot of events. This is why we constantly clean our trucks, but not just to make them look good, but to make sure they're in shape too.
Every year in September, Pennsylvania has their annual Firemen's State Convention. It's the most popular convention around; companies from New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and even Delaware participate in it. This September we were told that about 200 fire companies, both paid and volunteer, came to be in the parade. The convention is judged and it's silent. Silent means that we're not allowed to use air horns, sirens, no yelling or even talking to the citizens who come to watch. They call it a professional parade. The judges stand on the side of the roads every few feet and write down what they see; if anyone breaks any rules they're disqualified. They get to the part of inspection when they see just how clean the outside and inside of each truck is. They do the white glove test to check for dust or dirt, and they also make sure that the machines we carry in the truck actually work. It's the most hardest parade to participate in and it's even harder to walk away with a trophy. This year though, we were lucky. We walked away with two trophies, one of which was for second place in a category for newly bought trucks. In 2012 we will be hosting the Pennsylvania State Fire Convention; it's the best thing that has ever happened to us.
As I mentioned before, our fire company is not a paid crew. Every one of us are volunteer. Not many people like to join our fire company when they find out that they won't get paid. Now a days, everyone will only do something if there is money involved. This is why we go to schools around our area teaching kids and teenagers about volunteering and how much of a great life and learning experience it actually is. We figure that if we teach them at a young age, and that if they join at a young age, they'll see beyond the fact that you're not being paid to do something extremely risky and see that it's fun, and you can learn something new everyday. Not only that but, when you join at the age of fourteen, and you stick with it when you're eighteen, you can go to a college that is for the fire service, and they'll train and teach you everything that there is to know- for free. So then when you graduate, you can go to any paid fire company, some of the best companies in the country, and get paid doing it.
I recommend to any boy or even girl who likes hard work and loves being challenged to join their local fire company. Whether it's paid or volunteer, you'll be glad you joined. In some companies you don't even have to join, you can just be a social member. Being a social member means that you can just help out at our events, or help us clean the trucks. So then, if you like doing that and the environment you're working in, you could try out at becoming a junior firefighter. Getting involved as a junior fire-fighter is a WOW experience.

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