The all-volunteer Croton Fire Department is organized into five companies that operate out of three fire stations or “houses” in Croton-on-Hudson. Nearly 150 volunteers devote their time and energy to providing fire and rescue services to the citizens of the Village and surrounding areas.
Any resident of Croton-on-Hudson or the Town of Cortlandt who is a legal resident and at least 18 years of age can join the Croton Fire Department. Youth who are ages 14-17 can join the Department’s Explorer Program. No prior firefighting experience is necessary to apply. Training and equipment are provided at no cost to volunteers.
To find out more about the life of a volunteer fire fighter, I spoke with two members of the Croton Fire Department: Crystal Delaney, a 28-year veteran fire fighter and EMT, and Samantha Delaney (Crystal’s stepdaughter), who is a probationary active fire fighter and a two-year member of the Croton EMS Youth Corps, an Explorer Scout program.
What made you want to volunteer?
Samantha: My family is in it, and I’ve always known that’s what I want to do.
Crystal: I was close with my uncle, who was president of the Mohegan Fire Department and that made me want to do it.
Why is volunteering important to you?
Samantha: Being able to help in situations is rewarding.
Crystal: Taking time out of your day, your life to be there for someone else and not expecting anything in return. It’s a good feeling.
How much time do you put in weekly?
Samantha: I’m here Monday, Tuesday. You never know what’s going to happen when you go on one call. You can come for one call and not leave until 5 hours later.
Crystal: Monday, Tuesday, assorted Saturdays. Sometimes I’m here at 2 o’clock in the morning for a call. There are days when you leave for the pager and you don’t come back until you’re done with five or six [fire calls].
What sort of training have you received?
Samantha: CPR, first aid, Stop the Bleed class. Plus MCI training — Mass Casualty Incident that teaches you how to handle big events, what to do in a situation that can be chaotic. Stop the Bleed is learning about the tourniquet and how to pack wounds.
Crystal: Driver training, so I can drive trucks and ambulances, and EMT training, so I can be certified by the state to treat people. We are constantly training to make sure we stay up to date. Here [Harmon Station] we train once a week, but we also get together a couple times a month with the other departments and train with them.
What is your interaction with experienced members like?
Samantha: On calls or hands-on training is where I interact with them most. On calls you get to see how the command system works and how everyone communicates with each other.
What about your peers in the explorer program?
Samantha: I’ve made a lot of friends. On the EMS side I’m the president of the corps. I run the meetings and organize activities. It’s a leadership experience.
What is your interaction with the explorer/junior firefighters like?
Crystal: I’m one of the mentors. We teach them first aid, CPR, how to use equipment on the ambulance.
Being that you are a member of both EMS and Fire, how do you find the two departments interact with one another?
Crystal: I can be on a fire call that turns into an EMS call and just switch hats. It depends on what’s needed at the time.
What would you say to someone looking to join?
Samantha: It has been one of the best life-changing experiences that has ever happened to me. It has let me make so many friendships and it’s shown me the whole fire department in general and what a family can be.
Crystal: It’s a rewarding experience. You learn how to communicate with people and keep a lasting friendship. The camaraderie is like a family and volunteering will make you a better person.
Stephanie Gaudinier volunteers for the Croton Caring Committee and is a resident of Verplanck, where her brother is a volunteer firefighter.