Helping Those Who Fight Fire Meet Their Emergency Needs
The Freehold Fire Department is about to mark a century and a half of service, with timely help from Impact Deposits Corp.
When fighting fire, every minute, every second count, and the Freehold Fire Department has been guarding those vital moments for the residents of Freehold, New Jersey for many years: the all-volunteer outfit will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2022. You have to stay quite young to make it to be that old in this business, and FFD maintains a junior firefighting program to do just that. Youth ages 15 to 17 are recruited from local schools to join the training, learning everything from the firetruck to the tools of the trade to the skills necessary to conquer fire. Those who are excited by what they’ve seen and learned become eligible to join the Fire Academy and become a volunteer firefighter.
For John O’Grady, the Freehold Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief, firefighting runs in the family and begins early. “I started with the fire service at age 16,” he relates. “I was a junior firefighter in Rochelle Park and then I became a full-fledged member at that firehouse because it’s practically run by my family members, my father being one of them. My uncle and my grandfathers were here as well, so it dates back a few generations.”
Asked why he signed up so young, O’Grady replies: “It’s definitely worth the experience, especially if you’re doing it with others around your age. You build bonds and friendships with those guys that you start with. Even though I live an hour away from where I grew up, all my friends that I
was junior firefighters with are chiefs now up there. We all started together and we’re constantly in communication, it’s a real fraternity. It really is.”
After O’Grady graduated from college, married and moved to Freehold in 2012, he joined up with
the department and has been a volunteer firefighter here ever since. Unlike most other businesses and volunteer organizations, firehouses did not close during the Covid-19 pandemic, but it did change life at the Freehold Fire Department. “It was strictly, you know, you have a fire call, you show up to get on the fire engine and then you have to go home immediately after you’re done, instead of hanging around and talking with everybody. So it definitely hurt for a number of months to have to do that,” O’Grady remembers.
Another way that life changed for the firefighters was that new equipment protocols had to be put into place. “A firefighter’s SCBA is a self-contained breathing apparatus, kind of like a diver has an air tank and a mask that covers their face. We wear the same thing to go into a fire. Because of COVID-19, we really needed to purchase individual face masks, so every member could have one of their own, instead of keeping one on the truck that everybody would use.”
As Treasurer of the fire department, O’Grady turned to a trusted source—funds accumulated from the quarterly disbursements made by Impact Deposits Corp. He had used these same funds to purchase thermal imaging equipment for the department a few years earlier and is grateful to have Impact Deposits Corp.’s continual support for just such emergencies.
“It’s definitely worth the experience, especially if you’re doing it with others around your age. You build bonds and friendships with those guys that you start with. Even though I live an hour away from where I grew up, all my friends that I was junior firefighters with are chiefs now up there. We all started together and we’re constantly in communication, it’s a real fraternity. It really is.”
John O’Grady, Freehold Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief