by Lisa Tome
Matt Blakeley would like you to become a member of his family.
Blakeley, Chief of the Community Fire Company of Rising Sun, and other members of companies throughout the county, are looking to grow membership.
Sunday, April 12 marks the first ever Statewide Volunteer Recruitment Open House event. The day has been designated for the local fire companies to bolster membership and recruit new volunteers. In addition to the Community Fire Company of Rising Sun, 300 Biggs Highway, you may also visit Singerly Fire Company, Elkton, Cecilton Fire Company, Hacks Point Fire Company, Chesapeake City Fire Company, North East Fire Company, Charlestown Fire Company, Perryville Fire Company, or Water Witch Fire Company of Port Deposit.
As part of Maryland's efforts, the fire houses will be open for recruiting. The need for volunteers will be spotlighted.
"We're always open. We bring people in on a monthly basis," said Blakeley.
Blakeley said the company is in need of people to fill many jobs; firefighter, emergency medical services provider, people who will do administrative tasks, support personnel, fundraisers, and auxiliary members. "Anyone who wants to join can help us out. There's two sides to the fire department. It's like a business," said Blakeley.
People as young as age 14 can join the cadet program. Those ages 16 and above can fill out an application and pay a $25 application fee. There are openings for all: men, women, senior citizens, and those who are handicapped. That application goes to the Board of Directors who also interview prospects. References are required. "It's not hard to get approved," said Blakeley. "We have a place for everybody." The process can take up to 60 days for membership approval.
To become a firefighter, there are training requirements. There is also mandatory training, including driver's training and CPR classes to drive an ambulance.
Administrative and fundraising jobs have different requirements.
"We always have a need for people. We have 110 active members but people have jobs and families. We currently need people. We can never have enough," said Blakeley.
The chief is a second generation member of the fire company. He joined 16 years ago. His father has been a member for 40 years.
"We've always been members of the firehouse. It was expected and you go to calls every chance you get," added Blakeley. "We've missed family dinners and left in the middle of birthdays."