In our line of work, we say, “No one does it for the fame.” Our volunteers have a variety of reasons for giving their time — to save people, to serve their community, to advance their education — but you won’t find “to become famous” in that list of reasons. Our volunteers are quiet heroes making a difference in Prince William County. They save lives without their names going up in neon lights and soothe people during their worst moments without a great deal of recognition. They do these things because they love it.
And they aren’t alone. Volunteer firefighting dates back to the 1700s to a man who is now quite famous — Benjamin Franklin. Ben wasn’t just inventing bifocals, writing Poor Richard’s Almanac, studying electricity and helping draft the Declaration of Independence. Nope. That wasn’t enough for him. He also established the first volunteer fire department in Philadelphia in 1736.
Franklin witnessed numerous devastating fires in his youth growing up in Boston, including the fire of 1711 where 110 families lost their homes. At this time, members of the community established Boston Mutual Fire Societies, where members looked out for each other and came to the rescue when a member’s home or business was affected by fire.
When Franklin was 18, he moved to Philadelphia, another city heavily hit with fires during this time. While the city had an engine named The Shag Rag, it wasn’t enough to make a difference. Franklin wrote frequently in his newspaper The Pennsylvania Gazette about the dangers of fire and the need for better protection for the city. He longed to create organizations that protected the entire community, not only members.
In 1736, he created a fire brigade called The Union Fire Company, and he pulled together 30 volunteers, proving his commitment to serving his community. Additional companies were formed throughout Philadelphia with about 30-40 volunteers per station. And this is where it all officially started. While Franklin didn’t do it for the fame, he remains one of the most famous volunteer firefighters in our history.
Other famous Americans who penned “volunteer firefighter” on their resumes include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Paul Revere, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, James Buchanan and Millard Fillmore. None of these men became famous for the volunteer work alone, but their service illustrates the caliber of those willing to serve their communities. These men and our current volunteers are stand-out citizens.
Want to join an incredible team, gain valuable skills and experience, and become your best self? Come join us today. Learn more about getting started as a PWCFRS volunteer firefighter.
Are you looking for a change? Here in Prince William County, the volunteer departments provide fire and emergency medical services to the County’s citizens and visitors during weekday evenings, weekends and holidays. Prince William County’s volunteer fire and rescue departments are seeking motivated individuals who have the desire to make a difference and provide an important service to their community. Learn more now.
- Posted by ATW
- On March 2, 2018
- 0 Comments