Sunlight danced on the bright red trucks as a cordial young man, decked out in his Class A uniform, welcomed children and their families to the Germantown Volunteer Fire Department’s first open house since 1912. The firehouse opened its doors on Nov. 8 to invite community members to take a tour of the firehouse and firetrucks, meet the volunteers, eat, socialize and take home souvenirs.
Justin Doty, 20, became a volunteer because he wanted to help out in the community as much as possible. He said the department provides an education that he would never learn anywhere else. Doty is training to be a firemedic, and volunteering teaches valuable skills in the fields of technology and Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
Danbury consists of seven paid and 12 volunteer fire departments. According to a report from the NewsTimes, the infrastructure is in need of an estimated $63 million makeover. The report recommends setting up an entity for collecting funds to aggressively seek possible grants.
Fire Chief Anthony Rongetti said the department is always looking for volunteers so he decided to go out on a limb, and plan an open house to earn trust and establish a relationship with the community.
The team holds at least four donation drives each year. The next drive will start after Thanksgiving. Community members are invited stop by the department, buy a Christmas tree, and see what the department is doing for the community.
According to Assistant Chief John Cole, anybody who wants to volunteer can stop by the firehouse on Mondays at 7 p.m., see what they do, and fill out an application for a $5 fee. On the first Thursday of every month, applicants come in and decide what services they want to provide. The team then votes to accept or deny the applicant. Beers stated that he’s never seen a person get denied.
“We work together like a family,” said First Lieutenant Mike Beers, “Nobody is better than anybody else… There is a chain of command, but we’re all good friends.”