As a volunteer firefighter at the Jersey Shore, your life becomes a “drop everything and go” situation. If a call comes in, you drop what you are doing, respond to your firehouse, put on your gear and go. An emergency call can come in any time of day and in any kind of weather. Your job is 24/7. These firefighters have full time jobs, families, friends, hobbies, and yet they still choose to keep their community safe by running into dangerous situations voluntarily.
A volunteer firefighter’s job is not just to fight fires and respond to emergency calls. They have required monthly meetings for the department, meetings to discuss any issues regarding maintenance of equipment, fire gear, etc. and of course, fundraising.
For an inside look, ShoreTV New Jersey spoke with the current Chief of Ocean Beach Fire Company in Toms River, Drew Calvo:
ShoreTV NJ: What does being Chief of Ocean Beach Fire Company mean to you?
Chief Calvo: “Being Chief at OBFC is an honor! OBFC like any other firehouse is an extended family. They welcomed me with open arms 12 years ago… Having the opportunity to be chief allows me to give back a little and show my appreciation. We have many talented firefighters from many different backgrounds that allows us to learn from each other. My old company was a much bigger station and OBFC is a small group of guys giving back and to be able to lead them is a tremendous opportunity for me and thoroughly enjoyable.”
ShoreTV NJ: How does the community play an important role in the fire house?
Chief Calvo: “OBFC is like an extension to my family it in my opinion is one of the last community-based organizations that really acts as a centerpiece. From the local events to the pancake breakfast fundraisers, OBFC is respected and well liked. When you drive down the street in the trucks, kids still wave and smile and it is awesome. When we leave the firehouse doors open, we often get visitors who want to stop by and say hello. It is a great feeling!
ShoreTV NJ: Why did you become a volunteer firefighter?
Chief Calvo: “Being a volunteer firefighter is a family tradition. My grandfather was a volunteer in Piscataway. When I was little, my mom would drop me off at my grandparents’ house and I would go with my grandfather to the firehouse all day. I loved it and joined the day I turned 18. I hope the new generation coming in will continue with the pride and passion.”
ShoreTV NJ: Is it difficult to get volunteers?
“Lately, it has been hard to get new members, but we try to keep encouraging the community to get involved. So far, we are hanging in there and hopefully we will for many years to come!”
Ocean Beach Fire Company Station 27 is located in Ocean Beach 3 and has been serving the Barrier Island under Toms River Fire District 1 since 1951. Station 27 consists of both career and seasonal firefighters from the local area. They cover all of the land and sea between the Atlantic Ocean and the Barnegat Bay within their district. Their district consists of Ortley Beach, Monterey Shores, Ocean Beaches 1, 2, 3, Chadwick Beach and Silver Beach.
Station 27 also assists in responding to marine incidents, boat fires, surf rescues, and rescue calls. The Company is home to an engine, a ladder truck, a rescue pumper, a Polaris Ranger used for beach rescues, two wave runners for ocean and bay rescues, a water rescue/dive team truck, and a Boston Whaler fire boat.
You can learn more about becoming a volunteer firefighter in Ocean Beach. Check out the info below.
It’s often said that giving back is the best gift of all….and there’s no better place to do so than the Jersey Shore.
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ShoreTV NJ Guest Contributor: Emily Papamarkos