A recent council meeting, the Independence Fire Company in Palmyra called attention to its low membership numbers. Over the last few years, the number of volunteers and those who are interested in the fire company has dwindled.
In fact, according to Palmyra Chief Richard Dreby, this is a problem all over, with young people being not interested in joining the fire department. While Dreby doesn’t know exactly why that is, he suspects it may be because of the lack of familial ties and the society in which we live.
“Volunteers aren’t really where they used to be in general,” said Dreby. “It’s not how it used to be. We don’t have the same people in town, and a lot of them are working parents who don’t have the time to volunteer. Many years ago, people would join because they had family who were in the fire service.”
Like many of the volunteers in the fire department, Dreby started his career because of his father. His familial ties and natural desire to help are two of the main reasons he decided to pursue a career in the fire department. However, while reasons to join may have changed over the years, Dreby and the rest of the fire department are still recruiting members as best as they can.
“We do have an auxiliary program and we have a few kids that join at the age of 14,” said Dreby, “When they turn 18, they then go to fire school. We do have some who stick around, but there’s always the chance that the kids leave and go on to college.”
According to Dreby, as a recruit within the first two years, they’ll have to go to firefighter school for about six months. The recruits will go to the Burlington County training center for two nights a week and some weekends.
“We try to give them all the basics in-house before,” Dreby continued. “They eventually have to go to school and get certified, but after we get them, they look forward to going to school.”
With Fire Prevention Week coming up soon, the Independence Fire Company will be holding an open house on Monday, Oct. 7, for those who want to see what they’re all about. The fire department will be holding various demonstrations for the residents. The department attends and participates in many town-wide events, but Fire Prevention Week is perhaps the best time to learn about the fire department.
Those interested in learning more about the fire department or who want to volunteer can contact the department at (856) 829-0805.