UConn fire department launches new pilot program for student volunteers

“Every year we would get several requests asking if UConn had a volunteer branch, and we would always have to respond no, not at this time. Now they have a place to volunteer,” UConn Fire Department Chief John Mancini said. (Mic Johnson/The Daily Campus)

The UConn Fire Department is working to connect student volunteers with local fire departments and emergency response teams through a new pilot program posted on their website.

The program currently has five towns: Broad Brook Fire Department, Ellington Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Inc., Mansfield Fire Department, Somers Fire Department, Tolland Fire Department and Willington Fire Department who are interested in taking UConn volunteers.

“We have always had that [willing volunteers],”UConn Fire Department Chief John Mancini said. “Every year we would get several requests asking if UConn had a volunteer branch, and we would always have to respond no, not at this time. Now they have a place to volunteer.”

UConn is not in charge of the application process. Positions are filled on a case-by-case basis by the respective department Chiefs.

“We are not really saying you’re in or you can get on, that is between them [willing volunteers] and the area departments,” Mancini said. “UConn Fire is simply the link between students and these departments.”

Mancini did not list specific qualifications for the positions saying that, “each department will decide,” and has “different specifications.”

“Some may require prior volunteer experience, others may not,” Mancini said. “Some departments may also be paid, but that is dependent on the department. Each department has their own application process.”

In addition to the new services being offered through UConn Fire Department, a student group called UConn Rescue also organizes students interested in volunteering.

“While the UConn Fire Department reserves EMS positions for non-students, we encourage our UConn student population to explore EMS opportunities at fire departments in need of volunteers that are just down the road,” UConn Rescue Founder and President Sarah Biedermann said. “Since the start of UConn Rescue in 2014, many UCR members regularly volunteer and respond to calls at Mansfield Fire Department as well as North Coventry Fire Department. We are excited to see increased participation in the UConn EMS community and we always welcome new members to join our organization.”

“Well I think it's nice of them to finally have it clearly say on their website that they don't take volunteers because it was a bit confusing before but as for providing information that's something that can be easily searched for,” said member of UConn Rescue and a seventh-semester individualized major in Biochemistry, Richa Gupta. “So although it's nice that they now have the information in one place, it's not really much help from them. I just think that the title ‘program for connecting local fire departments with volunteers at UConn’ is misleading when all they are doing it putting up a page with the local information on it.”

Elizabeth Charash is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at elizabeth.charash@uconn.edu.