Tom is our first recipient of the the Get to Know profile section of the site. We have much respect for volunteer firefighters, and Tom is no exception. This zombie-prepared, music-video-loving, family-man, juggles work, family, fun, plus other volunteering. We don’t know how he does it!
Tom is a volunteer for Flourtown Fire Company. Below is a list of questions meant to explore both Tom and volunteer firefighting. Here are his responses:
How long have you been a firefighter?
What inspired you to become a volunteer firefighter?
My everyday job doesn’t have me as active as I would like. I have a strong desire to learn new things with my hands. Firefighting is all about what you can do under pressure. It really tests who you are and your skills.
What is your best story as a firefighter?
While fighting the Rittenhouse Lumber fire last year in below freezing temperatures in the middle of the night my gloves froze! That was one thing I was not ready for.
What is your full time job?
I teach AP Chemistry and College Prep Chemistry at Cheltenham High School. I also coach the Girls Cross Country Team, sponsor the Freshman Class, lead the Chemistry Club, and sit on the District’s Achievement Gap Committee.
Why should others volunteer?
It is an exciting and rewarding volunteer opportunity where you can learn almost anything! I’ve met great people in the township and really expanded my network of friends. Being a member of the Flourtown Fire Company makes me feel like I live in a small town. It also opened up other opportunities for me such as becoming a volunteer member of the Montgomery County Hazardous Materials Response Team.
What type(s) of training does it require?
The basic Firefighter Level 1 takes about 1 year to complete (about 180 hours on weekends/ weekday nights). Besides learning and practicing how to put out various types of fires you also learn basic hazardous materials response, CPR, first aid, fireground support, command structure, personal safety, and so much more. It takes place at the Montgomery County Fire Academy in Conshohocken. The classes are half classroom and half hands on. One week you may be practicing SCBA use, another you are throwing up huge ladders, and then the next you are practicing the best methods of forcible entry.
What is the time commitment?
After getting certified, most departments drill one night a week to practice the many things that you have learned, and how to perform them safely and efficiently, as a company.
Are there particular skills or minimum qualifications needed?
Besides passing a routine physical, the only thing that people need to become a volunteer firefighter is a dedication of their time and effort with a little toughness to handle the stress of some jobs.
Any advice/tips for township residents to get involved?
It is as easy as stopping by the firehouse on drill night and asking to talk to someone. I know it seems intimidating to walk into a fire station on busy drill night, but there is always officers around hoping the next volunteer is walking in that night. Volunteers like you and me are what keep this service going for the community. Everyone is welcomed.
On the personal side…
Why did you choose to live in Springfield?
I teach in Cheltenham and was searching for a township close by that had a good reputation. Every year I would talk to as many people as I could about their townships. Springfield came out ahead. Chris Mazurek, who teaches at Springfield High School and coaches cross country and track, really sold me on it. I am so glad I became friends with him through coaching. All of the highlights he told me about Springfield were true, and, in some cases, even better than he explained.
What do you like about Springfield?
I love the size and location. I am still close to the city but have that small town feel.
Do you have a favorite business?
Oreland Hardware. Whatever I need, they have it and help me find it.
Do you have a favorite event in Springfield?
Holy Martyrs’ Carnival. I love how Oreland comes alive at night for a week. I wish this could happen more.
What do you like to do in your free time?
My free time is balance between going on adventures with my wife and two boys and staying in shape. I love being so close to Forbidden Drive! It has everything to offer from a great hike with the family, to a killer long run without stopping at traffic lights.
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Zombie-prepared, music-video-loving, family-man
What superpowers would you choose if you could choose one?
If you had just one wish, what would it be?
An indoor/outdoor convertible beach volley ball court and heated swimming pool in my backyard for weekly competitions/parties.
Do you support any causes or non-profit organizations?
Holy Martyrs, Knights of Columbus, Morris Arboretum, Flourtown-Erdenheim Little League
We hope you enjoyed getting to know Tom. Give him a high five, or a pat on the rear, as a thank you for doing his part to keep others safe.
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