This post originally appeared on the AVFRD The Alternate Channel Blog on 6/1/2014.

May 27, 2014.   The day that a new group of prospective members met at Station 22 for a first hand look at Ashburn Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department.  A group of five women and three men sat down with Loring Dixon, Debbie Cea and Barbara Murphy for an overview of AVFRD and our prospective roles in the department.  In a way, I feel that this group is my group since I plan to follow as they learn the ropes.

As Loring makes a presentation, I find myself wondering….Which of these prospective members will do what?  Who will be the next lifesaving EMT?  Who will step up to help put out that raging fire?  Who will chair that very important fundraiser?  What will they bring to the table?  And what roles will they fill?   I look around the room.  It’s a diverse group.  All seem interested.  Some have brought family and friends.  I daydream and wonder what it will be like to see the whole operational process for myself, as an administration member.  And I remind myself, once again, that it is because of people like this – who took the very first step – that I am gifted with my own life for a while longer.  And I feel grateful to everyone in the room.

Meanwhile, each prospective new member greets the group with an introduction of name, field of interest, and reason for volunteering.  I find that I am sitting next to Paige, a former nursing student who says she would like to meet more people and is interested in becoming an EMT.  Next to me on the other side is Cherie Jones, who is interested in membership on the admin side of the department.

Loring’s presentation familiarizes the prospective members with company structure, service areas, and activities.  She reviews the application process which includes a written application, county paperwork, background check, fingerprinting, employment check, references, an entry level interview with firefighters or EMTs, a physical for firefighters, and a Board of Directors vote. Volunteer Recruit School starts in July.  New recruits will be given their green shirts with class of 2014-3 stenciled on the back.  They will be tested on physical agility and stamina; and they will attend orientation sessions for both Ashburn and Loudoun County.  They will take courses such as SCBA (breathing apparatus), BBP (bloodborn pathogens), PPE (personal protective equipment}, and they will be trained in the handling of hydrants and ladders.  Agility tests include six events to be completed within ten minutes.  Vital signs are taken before and after.  After completing testing, the new recruits will attend either FF1 and FF2 or EMT classes at the county training center.  They will then be assigned to a duty crew one night a week.  This is a long and grueling process designed to produce our country’s finest firefighters and EMTs. Loring stresses that VRS helps the recruits to develop a family atmosphere within the company; and serves to join both operational and admin members from the start of their company experience.

There is a flurry of questions from the prospective members before they submit their applications and tour the station.  There seems to be plenty of enthusiasm and I look forward to following their experience as a group.