Trumbull firefighters seeking a few good volunteers

Trumbull’s volunteer firefighters are looking for a few good volunteers that have what it takes to stand in their boots.

The Nichols, Long Hill, and Trumbull Center fire departments are jointly hosting “Bagels and Boots” on Saturday. The event, at J Bagels & Cafe on Madison Avenue from 10 to 2, is a chance for residents to meet and chat with firefighters and possibly sign up to become one.

“A lot of people in town don’t know that the departments are all-volunteer,” said Long Hill Firefighter Justin Leka. “They call 911, a firetruck comes, and they don’t realize that the firefighters are all members of the community that dropped what they were doing and came to help.”

Alex Relkin, a volunteer with the Trumbull Center department, said the departments constantly need new members.

“Life is always changing,” he said. “People move or their jobs change and they are less able to put the time in. That’s why we always need new members in the pipeline.”

Leka said the time commitment was the top question that potential recruits asked.

“People think that they are going to have to work shifts and miss work,” he said. “We emphasize that this is a volunteer service. Whenever you can come and help out, that’s great.”

Leka, a landscaper by trade, said he had been a volunteer with Long Hill since he walked into a firehouse and asked how to join up when he was 16.

“The reality is that the guys who come to your house when you call 911, they have 9-5 jobs or they jumped out of bed to come serve their community,” he said.

Relkin also signed up as a teenager, then spent two years doing what is known as “external” firefighting. External firefighting consists of tasks like carrying equipment and working brush and car fires — essentially anything that does not involve entering a burning building. Internal firefighting requires the volunteer to be 18 years old and to complete a certification class.

Relkin also opted not to pursue a career in firefighting. The Trumbull Highway Department employee can generally be found answering emergency calls at night while occasionally pitching in during the day at calls where greater manpower is needed.

In addition to the Bagels and Boots event Saturday, those interested in testing their fitness as firefighters also can come to Edge Fitness Club from 8:30 a.m. to noon, when members of the public can talk to volunteers, check out some firefighting gear and test their fitness on some firefighting drills, like donning 45 pounds of protective equipment and dragging a 170-pound rescue dummy.