Exeter Township Fire Department seeking volunteers amid nationwide decline
Exeter Township Volunteer Fire Department (ETVFD) is looking for a few good men. And women. And teens.
The department, which currently has about 50 active local volunteers, is in the midst of its annual “new firefighter” campaign, seeking junior firefighters (ages 14-17) and senior firefighters (18 and up).
“Volunteerism across the country is on the decline, and ours is not different than any other,” said ETVFD First Deputy Chris Jordan. “We need local people to help volunteer in many facets in order to keep our organization strong.”
According to Jordan, the additional volunteers are needed so that there are adequate members available to respond to emergencies in Exeter Township and St. Lawrence Borough, which, by their very nature, can occur at any time, on any day.
“The new members would help cover emergencies at all hours of the day, in a time where work and family commitments keep people busy a lot more than in the past,” Jordan said.
Anyone can apply to join the fire department. There are no prerequisites or physical requirements to join.
The timing of this recruitment appeal is intentional, because a basic training course for new firefighters begins on Feb. 15 at the Berks County Fire Training Center. The course involves about 160 hours of classroom and hands-on training required to become a volunteer firefighter.
However, Jordan said there is never a bad time to join because training programs are always available nearby.
“There are classes that start all the time in other counties,” he said.
ETVFD also offers in-house training every Tuesday night for its members.
“In the fire service, you are never done learning,” Jordan said. “After the basic firefighting course, the member achieves Firefighter 1 certification, which allows them to be a certified firefighter. There are other training sessions a member can take (i.e. vehicle rescue, truck company operations, pump operations, etc.)”
Although it looks great on a college application or resume, and volunteering and giving back to your community are each their own reward, becoming a volunteer firefighter comes with additional benefits. Active members receive cash incentives of up to $2,000 per quarter in which they remain active, as well as tax credits on township property taxes and income tax credits.
“It is [also] a great way to learn more about yourself and… make friendships and learn lessons that will last a lifetime,” Jordan said.
If fighting fires seems too adventurous for your interests or abilities but you would still like to help out, Jordan said ETVFD is always looking for other types of volunteers.
“We have opportunities to help with record-keeping, fundraising, finances, etc.,” he said. “If you are thinking about joining, please give it a try and come up and meet with us. There is no obligation, and it is a great way to meet new people and help your community.”