In August of 2016, my wife, sons and I moved to Dobbs Ferry. Having been born and raised in the Bronx and then having moved to Yonkers when we got married, I was finally living in a place that actually had a volunteer rather than career department.
In October, we attended what’s called the Ferry Festa which is basically a giant street fair in Dobbs Ferry. I passed by the fire department table, but I didn’t actually stop though my wife encouraged me to do so. I told her I wanted to get acclimated to living in a new place first.
A year later, we again attended the Ferry Festa. I told my wife that I’d see what the fire department was all about and I’d check out the table from the volunteer ambulance corps. As it turns out, I never made it to the VAC table. I found out about the fire department requirements, training, expectations, etc. The following Tuesday, I showed up to the scheduled drill night, met the ladder company Captain and just observed what went on for about two hours. That night I filled out the application and started the process.
Finally, on December 11, 2017, I was voted into the department. Thrilled would be an understatement. The training was intense and a little scary. Having first joined the department at an age when a lot of career firefighters could think of retirement, I did have some setbacks due to health issues, but I persevered and managed to graduate with a later Firefighter 1 class.
I volunteered for several reasons. First, it achieved a dream that I’d had since I was a kid. Second, it seemed like a great way to give back to the community. Third, someone has to do it. A volunteer department with no volunteers doesn’t help anyone.
In my short time with the department, I’ve met some terrific people who have become good friends, I’ve learned an amazing amount about firefighting and safety, and I’ve developed a lot of confidence to try new things. Once you’ve crawled through a pitch-black room where the ambient temperature is about 500 degrees and gotten out of it, not much else in life is very intimidating.
Having just turned 50 recently, I feel that I can give plenty more years of service to the Dobbs Ferry Fire Department. I’ve gotten so much from being a member that it’ll take a long time to pay it all back.