Protect Hopewell Valley: Why did you decide to volunteer?
Anthony Molnar: I had just moved into Pennington after living in Trenton for two years. I wanted to get involved in the community and meet new people. I had never had any prior experience in emergency services, but thought it’d be a good way to serve my town.
PHV: Why do continue?
AM: I continue because of the support and camaraderie. I started out on a one year probationary period. This allowed me to learn about the different apparatus and act as an observer on calls while I was attending the fire academy. During this time I was surrounded by constant support at the firehouse. Everyone would be eager to know what we were learning in class and how I was progressing. This would be reinforced in combination with real life examples and advice back at the firehouse. If I ever stopped by looking discouraged after a class, a visit to the firehouse would quickly put things into perspective.
I have since graduated from the Fire Academy however the support is still the same. As a fire fighter, I am constantly learning, growing, and honing the skills first learned at the fire academy.
Eventually, I am looking forward to advancing in leadership roles that require a whole new skill set in addition to being a firefighter.
PHV: Describe your most memorable moment as a firefighter.
AM: The night before Thanksgiving, I was with my Lieutenant, Mike Warren, explaining to him how I was more interested in driving the fire trucks and less interested in going inside a house that’s on fire. He pointed out the obvious bias in my opinion. I had never actually been on the first engine to arrive at a house fire, so I couldn’t speak from experience. Coincidentally enough, the very next night I find myself on the first arriving engine at a house that had fire showing from what seemed like every opening. Sure enough, the officer of our crew was Lt. Warren– and I was grabbing the nozzle to take the hose inside.
Despite my initial fear and zero visibility once we got inside, I was able to calm down, recall my training, and focus my adrenaline toward putting out the fire. Operating at a fire scene like that reinforces the notion of teamwork and trust. I don’t think I would have been able to have been so calm during that chaos if it weren’t for the trust I had in my Lieutenant being alongside me
Afterwards, he and I had a laugh over our conversation from the previous night. I’m still interested in becoming a driver, but I will never forget going into my first fire.
PHV: What has surprised you about firefighting?
AM: How much fun it can be. There is more to being a fire fighter than putting out fires. We are very involved within the community. We participate in local events, host a pancake breakfast, open houses, and in December we have Operation Santa. This gives us a chance to escort Santa around the neighborhood, hand out candy canes and get to meet our residents in a non-emergency situation.
PHV: Any advice for those interested in volunteering?
AM: Don’t hesitate and don’t be discouraged. This is a great way to meet people and grow as a person, to network, and most importantly, to have fun. We socialize together even when we’re not at the firehouse. You’ll learn about much more than just fighting fire.
We are all very proud of being volunteer firefighters. We do not get paid for this, but we put on the gear and step on that truck. It takes a lot of guts from the moment one signs up.
We train often so that we’re ready for any sort of emergency we’re dispatched to. If you happen to make a mistake, our officers will help you develop your skills for the next call. We’re all in this together and we never know who will be on the next call riding alongside us. We want to make sure that everyone is on the same page as soon as they join our team.
I was told early on that there’s an important distinction between a firehouse and a fire station. Pennington’s firehouse has become a second home for my other family and I’m extremely proud to be part of such a great organization.