Although they predominately serve on a location he calls “Rowan’s outer-campus,” Glassboro Municipal Fire Chief Steve Smith said he and his crew of about 25 firefighters have more work than students would know.
“We take over 700 calls a year,” Smith said. “[At Rowan], we’ve taken calls on two similar hazmat incidents, we’ve put out fires at Campus Crossings and we’ve had elevator rescues, amongst other calls.”
And with such a busy schedule in a growing community, Smith and Rowan Public Safety are looking for help from the student body. The two parties are looking to recruit part-time volunteers from Rowan, selling what they think would be a “tremendous” experience.
Assistant Vice President of Public Safety Michael Kantner said that he knew reaching out to the Rowan community would be crucial when he spoke to Smith about seeking volunteers.
“The partnership Rowan has with the Glassboro Fire Department is essential because we have many services here at Public Safety, but no fire services,” Kantner said. “They are very professional and provide a service that’s second to none.”
Smith said that there are currently three Rowan students volunteering for the department and that he would like to triple that amount in the near future.
“We’ve had a few more than we do now in past years,” Smith said. “I know there’s firefighters on campus, but I don’t know if they know about us.”
Junior biology major Connor Bryson is one of the three part-time volunteers, having joined the department in December 2013. Bryson was seeking something “different” from the typical extracurricular club and had no previous experience with firefighting.
“I just wanted to see what it was like,” Bryson said. “Plus, it’s a great resume builder and gives you a chance to help people.”
Bryson and fellow part-time volunteers serve in what he calls a “support role” on the calls they decide to respond to.
“We’re not allowed to actually fight the fire, so we do things like setting up ladders, setting up lines, helping clean up,” Bryson said. “It really doesn’t take much out of your day to just volunteer on calls.”
Interested in pursuing more responsibilities than that of a “support role,” Bryson is currently undergoing a five-month firefighter certification process that will enable him to take more action on calls.
Smith said no such process is necessary to become a department volunteer — aside from a fingerprinting, background check and interview process — and that students who would be willing to take on daytime shifts may eventually receive compensation.
“I’ve been talking to Kantner and [Director of Public Safety Reed] Layton about hopefully providing incentives to volunteers,” Smith said. “We know students are busy, and want to help with their college life.”
In the meantime, the officials believe that the program provides a lot more than material value.
“You’re doing something to provide to the community of Rowan,” Kantner said. “It’s a great foundation to lead you into your adulthood and I’m thrilled to see students get involved.”
People interested in volunteering should email Smith at email@example.com.
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