Volunteer Firefighting Skills Transferable to Emergency Service Careers


Growing up Dylan Maier always knew he wanted to help those in need and be someone kids can look up to, which is why he chose to become a volunteer firefighter at Norriton Fire Engine Company and pursue a career in law enforcement.

Dylan Maier

“I decided to join the Norriton Fire Engine Company because I always had respect and admiration for first responders,” said Maier. “I knew that Norriton was a volunteer company and it was going to be a great way to help my community and get my foot in the door as a first responder.”

Maier has been volunteering for eight months at Norriton and is also in the criminal justice program at West Chester University with an expected graduation date of fall 2024. There are skills he is learning as a volunteer firefighter and in the criminal justice program that are transferable to one another.

“I think there are skills and habits I’m learning at Norriton that will help me in my future career in law enforcement such as working in stressful situations and always planning for the worst while hoping for the best,” said Maier.

In addition to that, Maier says the communication skills required at emergency scenes will also help him thrive in his career. In his criminal justice classes, Maier is learning what police officers do at emergency scenes and what they are looking for at the scene of a fire or vehicle accident. Maier believes this will help him as a volunteer firefighter to help the officer if needed and use teamwork to best serve the community.

At Norriton Fire Engine Company, Maier is currently a probationary firefighter, which means he has not yet earned his Firefighter I certification from the Montgomery County Fire Academy. Until he completes this, he can’t enter burning buildings, but he can help on the exterior of buildings.  

“I’ll do whatever is needed of me whether it’s connecting a fire engine to a hydrant or throwing ladders to the windows of a multi-story building,” he said.

One of this most memorable training experiences was when Norriton was training with Centre Square Fire Company and practicing forced entries. A portion of the drill involved cutting a piece of rebar that was over the firefighters’ heads. While Maier was doing this, the saw he was using malfunctioned, so he set it down and started it up again. When he went to perform the cut, his arms became too tired and he couldn’t hold the saw up any more.

“It was at this training that I learned that this job is physically demanding and that I will need to begin working out to be able to perform my best,” said Maier.

Another eye-opener for him was when a dump truck and pickup crashed, and the driver of the pickup was reported deceased.

“I was not on this call, but I remember waiting for my university’s Criminal Justice Student Association meeting to start, and seeing the call come in and reading the dispatch notes,” he said. “In that moment, I knew how serious this job is and how fragile life can be.”

While volunteer firefighters face serious and distressing situations, it pays off when they are able to help someone. 

“What I enjoy the most about volunteering is the relief in people’s eyes and their gratitude when we put out a fire or when we respond to rescues, and the trapped individuals can take a deep breath and they know they are safe,” said Maier.

After returning from a call, Maier says they always evaluate what they did right and wrong, and look at ways to improve.

“It is unseen by the public, but it shows that we are dedicated to do our best to serve the community,” said Maier.

After he graduates from West Chester University, Maier plans to attend the police academy and join the police force. He recommends anyone wanting to get into emergency services field to volunteer at Norriton Fire Engine Company or their local volunteer fire department. 

“My experience volunteering at Norriton is nothing but positive. It’s a fantastic group of people who are welcoming and willing to work together to make someone the best version of themselves, which is important in emergency services,” said Maier. “The close relationships and connections that are formed with the local law enforcement and EMTs and paramedics can be a great help in the future when looking into careers in the field of emergency services.”

Anyone interested in volunteering at Norriton Fire Engine Company can learn more and sign up at NorritonFire.org.