How long have you been a volunteer for the Fayetteville Fire Department? What are your responsibilities as a volunteer?
I've been a volunteer for seven years, right after 9/11. I began as an ambulance driver. Over the next few years, I continued my training and became an interior firefighter, an EMT, apparatus driver and pump operator. There are a few of the volunteers who are qualified to participate on the EMS "side" and the fire "side." That flexibility is very important in a station, which answers more than 3,000 calls a year.
I also act as the deputy director of medical operations where I assist the DMO whenever he needs or requests it. In addition, we have an active association made up of all the members of our department, career and volunteer, which makes resources available for education, equipment and community activities. I serve as the chair of the board of that organization.
Why did you choose to become a volunteer? How has it influenced your life?
Community volunteerism runs deep in our family. My mother and father both instilled that in all their five children. Volunteering in the fire department is a unique experience where you are a part of necessary and vital services to your neighbor, learn something new every call, and get to associate with an outstanding group of fellow dedicated service providers.
What do you do outside of volunteering (career, family, hobbies, etc.)?
I have the privilege of being involved in a number of volunteer organizations, including the United Way and the chamber of commerce. I am the proud chair of Unity Mutual Life Insurance Company, Syracuse's oldest local life insurance company. I have a wife, Gwyn, who is smarter and more active than me, and we've been blessed with six wonderful children: Brenna, John, Brigid, Wali, Kristin and Michael.
What advice do you have for others seeking volunteer opportunities?
Volunteering in the fire service is easy to start. Just go to your department of choice and tell them you want to join. You'll be warmly received and begin learning what it takes to become an active and productive member. It does take time. It is a challenge. However, there is nothing more rewarding.