Trumbull firehouses prepare for Volunteer Firefighter Day

Eighty percent of the men and women who fight fires in Connecticut are volunteers, including the members of Trumbull’s three fire districts.

This Saturday, April 9, in an effort to attract new members, Trumbull’s firehouses will open their doors to visitors interested in becoming firefighters.

The open houses are meant to coincide with National Volunteer Week, April 10 to 16, which celebrates volunteers of every ilk.

“The vast majority of firefighters are volunteers,” said David DeLibro, a volunteer for more than 25 years and a member of the Trumbull Volunteer Fire Company. “We go through the same training as career departments.”

Connecticut has more than 55 volunteer fire departments. Most smaller departments throughout the state — and nation — are staffed by volunteers, while larger cities, like Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport, have paid departments.

Volunteer departments cost taxpayers less, but relying on them can sometimes lead to staff shortages. As a result, firehouses are in constant need of new recruits.

“New members are the future,” said Rob Murphy, a volunteer for more than 20 years and a member of the Long Hill Fire Department. “Without them, we couldn’t do what we do.”

While fire officials said the town has a healthy number of volunteers, the department can always use fresh faces.

“There’s always a need for volunteers,” said DeLibro, who estimates Trumbull has 200 to 300 volunteers, with some 100 active volunteers responding regularly to calls.

Officials stress that no experience is necessary and training is provided by the department.

Trumbull has three fire districts — Long Hill, Trumbull Center and Nichols — and seven firehouses among them. Volunteers join the firehouses closest to where they live. Most members respond to calls, which range from false alarms to serious car accidents and structure fires, from their homes.

“Volunteers have the opportunity to respond 24/7,” said DeLibro, who added that up to 50 members can show up for some calls.

Beyond the excitement of fighting fires, volunteering offers members fulfillment and friendship.

“My best friends are firefighters,” Murphy said. “You get brought into this community and it’s like a family.”

Trumbull Fire Services open houses will be from 10 to 2 on Saturday, April 9. They will be at the Long Hill Fire Department, 6315 Main Street, 5400 Main Street and 4229 Madison Avenue; Nichols Fire Department, 100 Shelton Road and 582 Booth Hill Road; and Trumbull Volunteer Fire Company, 860 White Plains Road and 1000 Daniels Farm Road.