While volunteer firefighters typically join Ringing Hill Fire Company out of a desire to help the community, it is not uncommon for the training and skills they learn to create professional opportunities in emergency-services careers.
Volunteering Leads to a Prosperous Career
Chris Wilcox, who has been volunteering at Ringing Hill Fire Company for almost 40 years, didn’t expect to find a passion for firefighting. He was a freelance photographer and became a volunteer firefighter to have access to photograph fire scenes.
“After I took my first fire class and Firefighter I, I really got hooked on it and really enjoyed what we were doing,” said Wilcox.
When Ringing Hill Fire Company’s fire dispatch moved from Pottstown to Montgomery County, the volunteers were invited to tour the County’s radio room. Wilcox was immediately interested in becoming a fire dispatcher; he applied and got the job.
He was a fire dispatcher for 18 years and said that the ability to attend different classes as a volunteer firefighter helped him in his career. Thanks to Ringing Hill Fire Company, the ability to take classes at the Montgomery County Fire Training Academy eventually led him to want to take more classes there and pursue an associate’s degree in fire science at the Montgomery County Community College. Additionally, the classes he took as a volunteer firefighter transferred to credits he could use toward his degree.
Wilcox later became the Campus Safety Officer at Ursinus College and is now the Emergency Management Coordinator. In his current role, he is part of the planning and preparedness process of the college, and creates business continuity plans for different departments. Wilcox is also in charge of AED and fire extinguisher inspections on campus, and manages evacuation drills for 1,500 students and 400-500 faculty and staff.
Wilcox says emergency services can be a tough field to get into and encourages those interested in it to give volunteering a try.
“If you want to get into emergency services, volunteering is a great stepping stone. What you learn in the fire company helps you transition in the emergency-services field as a career,” he said.
As Wilcox moved up in his career, he also took on more leadership roles within Ringing Hill Fire Company. He is currently the Vice President and the Chairman of the Board.
Getting Started in the Emergency-Services Field
While Wilcox is advanced in his career, volunteer firefighter Ethan Crovetti is just getting started. Crovetti joined Ringing Hill Fire Company as a volunteer firefighter about a year ago and has also volunteered at Skippack Fire Company for the past three years. He recently became an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) at Skippack Emergency Medical Services.
Crovetti always knew he wanted to pursue a career in emergency services, but wasn’t exactly sure what he wanted to do within that field.
“The opportunity I found at Ringing Hill helped solidify my plans to pursue a career in firefighting and EMS,” he said.
As an EMT, volunteer firefighting prepared him a lot for this role. “It was a great way to get introduced to the 911 system in Montgomery County and learn how emergency services operate on emergency scenes,” said Crovetti.
Through the training and courses Ringing Hill Fire Company sent him to, Crovetti was able to receive his CPR and First Aid certifications, along with some hands-on experience with medical incidents, before becoming an EMT. Volunteer firefighting helped Crovetti become an EMT, and his career has helped him as a volunteer firefighter as well.
“Having medical knowledge has helped a lot on fire calls, especially car accidents, because there are times when we will get there before the ambulance and patient care has to be started by firefighters,” he said.
In both volunteering and working in emergency services, Crovetti loves the unpredictability of it.
“No two calls are ever the same and it always keeps you on your toes, expecting the unexpected,” he said. “There are some days where you could be running calls from the second you start your shift and not see the station until the very end of the day, and then there are days where you might sleep the whole day. It keeps things interesting.”
Either way, Crovetti says Ringing Hill is a great place to get a feel for working in emergency services and find out if you want to pursue a career or not.
Why Volunteer at Ringing Hill Fire Company?
Ringing Hill Fire Company provides all its volunteers with free gear, plus training at state and local levels. Volunteers learn how to use state-of-the-art equipment and master new skills.
“For anyone interested in pursuing emergency services as a career, consider joining Ringing Hill Fire Company,” said Derek Dry, Assistant Chief and Recruitment and Retention Committee Chair. “You will discover your potential and find out what you’re really passionate about, all while helping your community.”
To express interest in volunteering, visit https://joinringinghill.org/ and fill out an inquiry form on the Contact Us page.