The Road to Becoming a Volunteer Firefighter (E. Robbins)

The following is an account from Xi Xi Chapter Sister, Emily Robbins, detailing her journey to becoming a Far Hills-Bedminster Firefighter.

It certainly has been an interesting two and a half months!  In late May of 2013 I decided I wanted to join one of the local fire departments to better serve my community.  As per department requirements, I was required to attend at least two fire drills before being considered for membership.  At my first few drills, the department was performing an extrication, where they place dummies in a car that has been set up as if it had been in a car crash (near the fire department, not on the highway) and there is a pretend scenario announced.

At one particular drill, the firefighters were required to take both doors off of the passenger and driver’s sides in order to reach the “patient.”  Next, they had to do a dashboard raise because, in this scenario, they were to pretend that the “patient’s” legs were trapped beneath the steering wheel.  This whole drill, mind you, is in full firefighting gear!

After observing a few drills, attending many truck details, and having my name read at two of the monthly meetings, I was qualified to receive my gear.  I had a countdown to this day from the minute I turned in my application!  I couldn’t wait!  That night, I was called down to the fire house and received a pager, pants, a jacket, boots, gloves, goggles, a hood, and a helmet all to store in my own locker.  It was actually a pretty overwhelming night just due to all of the excitement, but getting my gear was the most amazing feeling.

A little over a week later, I participated in a drill like I had observed (another extrication).  My heart was pounding and adrenaline was running through my body.  One of the Ex-Chiefs called me over to the driver’s side of the smashed car and taught me how to use a spreader to pop off the doors of the car.  Let me just tell you, the tools are much heavier than I thought they would be!  Also, in case you’re wondering, yes, the gear we wear is heavy and you sweat A LOT in this heat!  I definitely made a lot of mistakes during that drill, but everyone was really supportive and just wanted to get the new members involved. 

I still have limitations on what I am allowed to do, such as how close I can get to a fire or motor vehicle crash, but I will be attending fire school soon and will then gain more responsibility within the fire department.  It will definitely be a challenge, but I am excited to learn.  Luckily, I will be attending fire school with another new member from my department, so at least I will know one person in class.  I am looking forward to learning how to truly help the community and potentially save someone’s life.

Despite my “new member” limitations, I have been able to respond to a few calls so far, although not to a real fire yet.  My pager goes off at some of the most inconvenient times, but you respond when you can.  My goal is to just make a difference to one person.  I obviously can’t save the world alone and I definitely have a lot to learn, but having an impact on one person, I believe, is a big enough goal.


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