Fire Dept.'s Good Works May Be Unnoticed
First female firefighter details the unsung gifts of the department
It's more than putting out fires.
Some of the good works of the Morris Township Fire Department may go unnoticed, Danielle Hazen, the first woman on the career division, said.
This time of year, the most prominent public service of the five fire companies involves serving as chauffer for Santa as he distributes candy canes to children and dog biscuits to their pets.
But that’s not the extent of the public service the fire department performs, Hazen said.
Fire Prevention Week in October is a big event. Not only do the fire companies visit the schools in their sectors, they also invite children to “kids night” at the firehouses.
“Last fall we got out one of the smaller fire hoses and the kids got to spray it,” she said. “They get to check out the trucks. And for the parents the Office of Emergency Management demonstrates the difference between a room with sprinklers and one without.” Parents also get to see the improvements made in sprinklers and smoke detectors.
The kids learn about smoke and CO detectors. “We give out band-aid kits and other items,” she said, so the kids will remember their visit.
While Fairchild and Woodland are the firehouses open on Fire Prevention Week, there are other times during the year parents can bring their kids to the neighborhood fire house. “They stop in when they’re on the way to the park,” she said.
“Kids are engaged with fire trucks,” she said.
When those kids who love fire trucks get a little older, they can join the junior fire fighters program.
The department also offers scholarships.
To that end, they have organized 5-K runs.
“For the past four years there has been a group from the department going into New York in honor of the victims of 9/11.
The fire fighters do their best to support other groups in the township.
They work alongside the Morris Minutemen Squad. “We respond on day calls,” Hazen said. The police department also responds often. “We work well together,” Hazen said.
Hazen encourages other young women to “go for your dream.”
She started as a volunteer in 2003, then joined the paid division in May 2011, Hazen said. When she joined as a volunteer, there were one or two women in some of the companies.
“It was a great hobby for me,” she said of her volunteer days. After graduating college with a degree in elementary education, she worked in a school and in her family’s business, then decided to join the career squad.
Like most municipalities, Morris Township didn’t always have a paid fire department, but as the number of calls increased and the membership didn’t, the decision was made to hire some paid firefighters. There are about 20 paid and 60 volunteer firefighters. “There were a few retirements and a few new hires this year.”
Paid members work both the day and night shift, Hazen said.