Derek Fox

DEREK FOX

Observer Columnist

I’m excited to share with you details about a new volunteer opportunity I started back in January. 

At the beginning of this year, I applied to be on the DeWitt Volunteer Fire Department where I was brought on as a probationary firefighter. In order to be voted on as a full member and be released of probationary status, there are things that I must accomplish within my first year. 

These things include a National Firefighter 1 Certification and hours of training to obtain an understanding of how the fire service works and its safety guidelines. Along with this training comes an understanding of the equipment that DeWitt uses on calls and how firefighters work a scene. To say this experience so far has been humbling, would be an understatement. 

I want to first take the time to give recognition to the guys we have on our department. Prior to joining, I didn’t fully realize how dedicated this group of guys was. However, I quickly learned during these first five months that my fellow volunteers dedicate multiple hours of their personal time each year to help protect this community. 

This doesn’t just include responding to calls. There are many other things like training, community involvement, and fire prevention education that come along with it. It’s also important to note that all 26 members do this on a completely volunteer basis. No one is paid. 

They all make the commitment to respond to a call when they can, each and every time the tones drop on their pagers. A lot of guys (past and present) have dedicated or promised years of their time to doing this. 

Volunteering is time away from their family and their jobs so they can be there to help when needed most. The best part is, they don’t volunteer for this because they have to, but because they want to! These guys show a true dedication to being there for their community, working together as a team, and “Protecting the Crossroads.” 

As the “new guy” on the department, my goal is to focus as much time as I can to training and learning so I am able to better myself with each new experience that comes my way. 

The other members make this easy to do. All of them are willing to offer advice, teach me new things, and be there to help me out when needed. Each one has seen different things and can be a great resource. 

One thing you hear of a lot in the fire service is that it’s a “brotherhood.” That is not just a label they give to themselves; it truly is a brotherhood. Each one of these guys looks after one another like they would their own family. Any one of them would jump at the opportunity to help each other out and not think twice about it. I am lucky to have the support and encouragement that I have from these guys. 

I have a lot to learn yet. I haven’t even begun to break the surface. In fact, the learning will never end. I do hope that one day I am able to be someone that a new member looks to for advice when they join. 

I’m sure I speak on behalf of the department as a whole when I say thank you to the city of DeWitt and its community members for all of your support. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to be the department we are today. You allow us to make sure we are well equipped to serve you all!

As summer nears, the department has three grilling fundraisers coming up. They occur on the last Wednesday of June, July and August at the fire station. The first event of the season is June 26. The grilling gatherings take place from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. 

Come and enjoy a ribeye or pork chop sandwich all while supporting the DeWitt Fire Department. We’d love to see you there.

— Derek Fox is a DeWitt resident who works and resides in his hometown and enjoys volunteering with various DeWitt organizations.