When I first met my husband's family, I thought they were a little bit over the top obsessed with being volunteer firefighters. Jay's parents have a scanner in their kitchen and I can't even tell you how many times we've been over for a family dinner when one-pager would go off and then another and another until suddenly, there were only a couple of us still sitting at the table because everyone else left to answer the call for help.

I have to admit- I was wrong about my husband's family being obsessed. It's not that. It's that they're passionate. Passionate about protecting those they love. Passionate about helping strangers in crisis. Passionate about leaving the world a better place.

Traci Taylor

I know that the family I married into is filled with passion because I saw the same passion in the eyes of the men and women I met at Binghamton's Hillcrest Fire Department. I asked Keely Rauscher who has served as an interior firefighter (which means she's on the front line- the one going into burning buildings) for seven years what it is that fuels her. She told me, "it's in the blood." Both of her parents are members of the fire department and Keely wanted to follow in their footsteps. Keely's mom, April Rauscher is the Assistant Treasurer for the Hillcrest Fire Department and has been protecting our community for 39 years and Keely's dad, Mark Rauscher, volunteers as both an EMT and firefighter.

Traci Taylor

Chief Rick Larson has volunteered his time to protecting our community for nearly 20 years and when I asked him why he continues to do what he does, he said, "helping the community in their time of need is the greatest satisfaction."

The men and women of the Hillcrest Fire Department don't just give of their personal time to go out on calls. They participate in training every week. While it's not mandatory that all fire departments train each week, Hillcrest does because they want to make sure that their firefighters are at the best they can be.

Traci Taylor

Since the opening of the Hillcrest Fire Department in 1947, volunteer membership has steadily dropped through the years. Most all of the current members have families and jobs outside of the firehouse and yet these dedicated few are still the first to jump when needed.

Being a firefighter isn't all about running into the smoke and flames. As a matter of fact, it takes an entire crew to pull everything together. There are people outside the flames managing the hoses and driving the engines and those people are just as crucial to the firehouse as the interior firefighters are. So, if you've tossed around the thought of volunteering with your local firehouse, but running into a burning building isn't your idea of a good time, there are so many other ways that you can help.

Traci Taylor

Volunteer With Your Local Fire Department

If you're interested in learning more about how you can volunteer your time with the Hillcrest Fire Department, reach out to them at 607-723-8801 or you can stop by the station on Saturday, April 27th between 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. during their open house. 

Maybe you don't live near the Hillcrest Fire Department, but you're interested in getting involved with the fire department that you do live near. On Saturday, April 27th from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., more than 30 Broome County Fire Departments will host open houses for anyone interested in volunteering.

All you have to do to take the first step in becoming a volunteer with your local fire department is stop in between 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 27th!

[via Broome County Firefighters Association]