Dr. Samuel Coleman and Brian Lawlor love helping the community and both joined Norriton Fire Engine Company in December 2022 as fire police volunteers.
Coleman, who is the Dean of Students at Montgomery County Community College, says people were surprised when he joined Norriton Fire Engine Company.
“They said, ‘Wait a minute, you’re doing what?’” said Coleman.
Between his job, wife and kids, serving as a Scout Leader and other obligations, Coleman is busy, but he’s still found the time to volunteer.
“Being a volunteer, there’s going to be times people can’t make it,” said Coleman. “The more volunteers we have and equipment we can get to the scene, the faster the response time and the more support we can provide.”
When he joined, Coleman was concerned about being the first African-American on the team, but says everyone has been great to work with and very welcoming, and he hopes to bring more diversity to Norriton.
Lawlor, who works as a Facilities Supervisor at a hospital, agrees that Norriton is a supportive atmosphere to volunteer in.
“Being with Norriton and the other volunteers is like family,” said Lawlor. “Since day one, they have treated me not only as another person on the team, but as a family member. I love and enjoy volunteering with them.”
Lawlor was inspired to join Norriton because he wanted to help out the community in a special way.
“I heard a lot of great things about the fire department, as in what they do and how they participate in the community,” he said.
After meeting Chief Kevin McDevitt and talking with him, Coleman thought Norriton was the perfect place to help out.
“For me, volunteering is about supporting East Norriton,” said Coleman. “I love being part of the community and helping wherever I can.”
Coleman and Lawlor are both volunteering as fire police to direct traffic at emergency scenes and help keep first responders safe. Training – at local, state and national levels – and gear are provided by Norriton Fire Engine Company.
Lawlor has completed all of his fire police training and Coleman will start in April at the Montgomery County Fire Academy. The two required fire police courses are Basic Fire Police and Emergency Vehicle Operator Training.
After Coleman completes these courses, he will earn his fire police certificates and can be officially sworn in at Norriton Fire Engine Company. Since he joined in December, Coleman rides on calls with Fire Police Captain Rick Dinapoli to learn from him.
Coleman and Lawlor also attend Norriton’s company-wide meetings on the first Wednesday of every month and training every Monday night. Coleman and Lawlor learned about air packs, HAZMAT operations, emergency vehicle operations, fire ground support and exterior firefighting.
“I want to help them out in all different ways even if it’s going to a fire call and working ground support with hoses and ladders,” said Lawlor.
Coleman is also looking to help in any way he can to support the team. After his required fire police courses, Coleman plans to continue training and take the courses Advanced Fire Police and Legal Concepts for Fire Police.
On fire calls, Coleman and Lawlor are trying to learn from the senior firefighters and officers as much as they can.
“It’s important to be observant, to communicate and to listen to instructions,” said Coleman. “There’s a Chief for a reason. There are captains for a reason.”
Listening will ensure that they are being safe and the entire team is being safe. Safety is the number one priority for Norriton on calls.
Overall, Lawlor says he enjoys helping out and interacting with the community, whether it’s going on fire calls or participating in events.
“It feels very good when a citizen or non-firefighter takes the time out of their day to say thank you for everything that we do to help them and protect them,” he said.
In the community, Coleman will wear his Norriton Fire baseball cap and see if anyone strikes up a conversation and is interested in joining.
“There are different ways to support and volunteer that aren’t firefighting and don’t require as many hours of training,” said Coleman.
From cleaning up at the station to painting a room or washing trucks, there are many ways the community can offer helping hands.
“Come out and talk with members and see the ways you can help,” he said.
To learn more about volunteering at Norriton Fire Engine Company, fill out an inquiry form at NorritonFire.org.