2022 Glen Rock/Fair Lawn Citizens Fire Academy


by Cole Tennant, Social Media Manager

On Oct. 11, 2022 the annual Glen Rock-Fair Lawn Citizens Fire Academy kicked off once again at full force. Every year the Glen Rock and Fair Lawn Volunteer Fire Departments host the Citizens Fire Academy. This academy gives any citizen of the two towns the opportunity to learn about what firefighters do, how they do it and even train like a firefighter. Participants must be 18 years or older, be able to attend all classes and be able to handle moderate levels of physical activity.

The academy runs for six weeks. Meetings occur on Tuesday evenings and each session is about two hours. The first day consists of orientation, and each week following that you gear up and do real hands on firefighter drills and exercises. Some of the activities you get to perform are search and rescue work, crawling through a smoke-filled room looking for victims, ladder work, and extrication exercises on an car.  

The Citizens Fire Academy has been running since 2018 under firefighter Doug Sadowski who is a member at both Glen Rock and Fair Lawn Fire Department. Many members of both Glen Rock and Fair Lawn Fire Departments volunteer their own time on Tuesday nights in the fall to come out and help support the academy. 

Two major goals of this class is to teach the communities all about what us firefighters do on a day to day basis and also recruiting new members for both towns. The number of volunteer firefighters throughout the country have rapidly declined over the past few years and many departments are struggling greatly because of this. Nationwide 73% of fire departments are volunteer, which is a scary statistic considering the drastic decline of volunteers in the recent past. Glen Rock Fire Department has around 45 volunteers currently but this number is not consistent. Throughout those 45 members are chiefs, line officers, company officers, firefighters, engineers, probationary firefighters, junior firefighters and life members. The Fair Lawn Fire Department has approximately 125 members but they are always looking for more.  

As well as volunteering a lot of their time at the firehouse and running calls, your volunteers also work full time jobs and raise families throughout this process. Unfortunately this hinders volunteer response time and attendance throughout certain times of the day or week. Oftentimes automatic response and mutual aid agreements are used to help departments maximize their response throughout the daytime hours. 

Deirdre Tarrant, a member of the Glen Rock Fire Department who joined after participating in the Citizens Fire Academy in 2019 said the activities, “were really amazing hands-on lessons that [she] had never pictured [herself] doing.” Deirdre also stated, “If you want to add a little adventure to your life, give it a try. It will test you mentally and physically, but it will be worth it.  It’s a tremendous privilege to serve our town as a firefighter, and the Citizens Fire Academy started me on that path.” Deirdre joined the department in 2020, went through her probationary period, attended Fire 1 and became a full member of the Glen Rock Fire Department in March of 2022. She is one of the amazing volunteers who selflessly gives up their time everyday to protect others.