Editors note: a previous version of the article mis stated that volunteer fire fighters don’t run into burning buildings. Junior members and Canteen don’t run into burning buildings, but remain a vital part of the team.
While other volunteer positions don’t run into burning buildings like firefighters in Deptford Township do, they are still a valued part of the team.
The role of fire police is one of several available to volunteers who are considered support staff, working alongside five firefighting battalions in the department. Training and equipment are free for all volunteer positions.
“I always wanted to be a fireman, but I have a bad back,” said Michael Hinchliffe, captain of the Deptford department’s fire police unit. Hinchliffe’s daughter, also a firefighter within the township, notified him about the opportunity to volunteer more than 10 years ago, and he followed through.
“It’s my way of giving back to the community,” Hinchliffe explained.
“Our department saves the township money,” explained Michael White, chairman of the Deptford Board of Fire Commissioners. “By utilizing both dedicated volunteers and a smaller staff of career firefighters, we provide essential fire protection services for Deptford at a much lower cost.”
Hinchliffe explained that volunteer fire police fulfill duties that would otherwise be handled by full-time police or firefighters.
“It frees up the fire truck and police cars to do whatever they have to do,” he added.
Other volunteer roles include junior members ages 16 and 17, who work under supervision; Canteen, who help firefighters with rehabilitation services throughout Gloucester County, and administrative volunteers who help with paperwork and coordinate and plan events.
Early this year, the department launched awareness and recruitment campaigns to bolster its volunteer ranks and shed light on the important role they play in the township.
Hinchliffe, who is on the fire police with his wife, is always trying to get other people to join.
“I talk to everybody I can think of,” he noted. “We hope to ensure Deptford Township is aware of the invaluable service the department provides.”
More information can be found at www.DeptfordFD.org.