The following is a release by the Firefighters of Gloucester Township:
Even in the wake of a pandemic, volunteer firefighters are needed to keep our community safe. As New Jersey begins to open up, recruiting volunteers is once again in full swing for The Firefighters of Gloucester Township.
Four local fire companies—Blenheim, Chews Landing, Erial and Glendora –have come together in a campaign to recruit new firefighters that began last year. Now the campaign is going full steam ahead, while following the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and state guidelines to make sure that everyone is safe.
Chews Landing Chief Michael Millisky said that masks are now required for everyone that comes to the firehouse and the policy of six-feet apart social distancing is also in place.
“We started bringing in new members a week or so ago,” he said. Some of the member candidates began the process of joining before the pandemic lockdowns began and now they are continuing the process. One prospective new member has cleared a background check and two others are awaiting their clearances, he said.
After use, all tools and apparatuses are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. At the height of the pandemic, they limited trucks to four firefighters each. Now as many firefighters as needed can answer a call, he said.
“We’re back to normal response operations,” Millisky said, albeit wearing masks. If any member travels out of the area, they follow quarantine protocols if needed.
“We’re very strict for the protection of our members and the public and so far have made it through unscathed,” said Millisky.
Erial Fire Company Chief Michael Brezee said they are also complying with all CDC safety rules, including masks and social distancing. No touch thermometers are also used when people come into the fire station, he said.
They interviewed some new candidates and “everyone wore masks and maintained a six-foot distance,” he said.
During training, “everybody is gloved up,” along with wearing masks, he said. “All the tools get washed down and disinfected afterwards. We’re training outside to keep everybody as far apart as possible. We have plenty of personal protective equipment.”
When responding to calls, “we still do the job we have to do,” said Brezee.
The collaborative recruitment campaign between Blenheim, Chews Landing, Erial and Glendora fire companies is funded by a multi-year grant from FEMA.
Volunteer opportunities include:
Volunteer Firefighter –Among our greatest need is that for volunteer firefighters. Training and equipment are free. As a volunteer firefighter you will learn how to respond to emergencies, help protect property and most importantly, save lives. Volunteer firefighters must be at least 18 years old.
Junior Firefighter—Junior firefighters are 16 or 17 and will be trained to assist firefighters at the scene of an emergency. Again, training equipment is free. Becoming a junior firefighter is a great way to perform community service and the experience is a great boost for your college resume.
Volunteer Associate Member—Individuals who are interested in volunteering but don’t want to answer fire calls can still help. Volunteer associate members must be at least 18 and are trained to handle business vital to the operation of the fire companies, including fundraising, recruitment and retention, logistics and accounting.
Individuals who visit www.FirefightersofGloucesterTwp.org and fill out an inquiry form will be contacted by the chief that is closest to their area to discuss their interest in joining.