Shelton fire officials tout benefits of volunteering

Looking for an exciting way to give back to your community, then Shelton’s volunteer fire departments may be the answer.
All four local firehouses — Shelton Volunteer Fire Company, White Hills Volunteer Fire Company, Huntington Fire Company and Echo Hose Hook & Ladder — are seeking individuals willing to “learn, adapt and overcome challenges,” according to fire officials.
“The best part of being a volunteer firefighter for the Shelton Fire Department is the comradery among the members not only in one fire company, but across the whole department,” said Ryan Mattioli, a second generation firefighter who is also the department’s recruitment and retention officer.
“To use the slogan from our White Hills fire company ‘neighbors helping neighbors,’” added Mattioli, “it’s great to have eager men and women from various ages and from all aspects of personnel careers coming together when an alarm goes in to step up and help someone in our great community.”
At present, Mattioli said there are some 245 active members across the four firehouses, but the department is always seeking new volunteers, especially when the number of calls — for fires, alarm activations and motor vehicle accidents on local roads as well as Route 8 — are continually increasing each year. Mattioli said the Huntington Fire Company — at which he was once captain — alone responded to more than 600 calls last year.
Chief Francis T. Jones III said the Shelton Fire Department total did increase significantly this past year, but he noted that the number is somewhat skewed due to a snowstorm last March during which the department responded to 137 calls for assistance in a 24-hour period. Overall, city firefighters responded to 1,616 calls, compared to 1,283 in 2017, 1,175 in 2016, 1,215 in 2015 and 1,156 in 2014.
“With the amount of calls, plus other duties, it would be nice to have more than 300 active members,” said Mattioli, adding that young men and women are sought to help fill spots left by older, retiring members.
“Shelton’s volunteer firefighters provide fire suppression, various rescue services, fire prevention, and fire education to our community each and every day,” said Jones. “The city of Shelton provides all the equipment and training necessary to meet these challenges faced by the membership. The skills learned and family bonds created provide a lifetime of benefits to those who choose to become part of our team of neighbors helping neighbors.”
To apply, the major requirement is the individual be 16 years of age or older. Volunteers must also attend alarms, drills, meetings, work parties, fundraisers and other special events with their respective company, according to Mattioli, as well as perform your assigned firehouse chore and learn the various apparatus.
Training begins immediately for new volunteers, said Mattioli, with those individuals riding the trucks and learning the equipment within the first month. New volunteers will learn about all of the department’s operations, from using ladders to search and rescue, operating air packs to mastering the many specialty vehicles in the fleet.
“Eight months to a year in, they are ready to go,” said Mattioli.
Mattioli said many people do not realize that the city has a volunteer fire department, the benefit of which is the ability to have highly trained and skilled firefighters while the cost remains minor, compared to communities with paid forces.
“But the most important of what we do is serving the community,” said Mattioli. “It really feels good to give back. We are always looking for new members to join the department so we can grow into the future as a wonderful organization.”
Those interested in volunteering or obtaining more information can email, call 203-924-1555, ext. 1515, or contact their closest fire station.