Gloucester Township Firefighters Launch Grant-Funded Volunteer Recruitment Campaign


CONTACT: Eric Devlin, 215-884-6499

Gloucester Twp., N.J. … Four local fire companies are working together to ensure the long tradition of volunteer fire service continues into the next generation in Gloucester Township. Blenheim, Chews Landing, Erial and Glendora fire companies have announced a new effort aimed at promoting the need for volunteer firefighters and other members at their individual stations. The new campaign will encourage community members to visit

As part of its recruitment kick-off, the fire company unveiled its newest slogan “Firefighting is our passion. Volunteering is our tradition. Make it yours,” which speaks to the campaign’s goal of welcoming those interested in adding their name to a long history of neighbors protecting their community when a blaze breaks out. The new slogan will be included in all print and electronic materials, ads and public relations used to inspire interest among potential volunteers.   

Through its new recruitment website,, prospective volunteers will have a place where they can learn about the various volunteer opportunities, get their questions answered and complete a volunteer inquiry form to begin the application process.

There are four ways community members can become involved as a volunteer:

  • Volunteer Firefighter- As a volunteer firefighter, community members will be called on to help respond to emergencies, save lives and protect property. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old to become a firefighter.
  • Junior Firefighter- Junior volunteer firefighters are there to assist firefighters at the scene of an emergency and develop their skills for the future. Junior firefighters must be at least 16 years old.
  • Volunteer associate member- They help keep a fire station running by handling its important business. Volunteer positions include fundraising, recruitment and retention, logistics and accounting. Volunteer associate members must be at least 18 years old.
  • Ladies Auxiliary Member- Ladies auxiliary members organize bingo nights and numerous special events throughout the year.

All training and equipment are provided to volunteers at no cost.

The volunteer recruitment campaign will include a proactive social media campaign, targeted direct mail, community events, indoor and outdoor displays, media interviews and other activities to help increase community awareness of the need for volunteers.

This new four-year campaign initiative, which runs through 2021, will be implemented at no cost to taxpayers. It is funded entirely through the Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) grant by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which the four fire companies – Blenheim, Chews Landing, Erial and Glendora – were awarded after agreeing to pursue the grant together.

Addressing a National Shortage which Has a Local Impact

According to the National Fire Protection Association, almost three-fourths of the nation’s 1.1 million firefighters are volunteers, and two-thirds of all fire departments are volunteer. More than 80 percent of New Jersey’s roughly 37,000 firefighters are volunteers, according to the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs in a media report.

Meanwhile the number of volunteer firefighters in the U.S. reached a low in 2011, according to the National Volunteer Fire Council. While there’s been slow growth since then, the number of emergency calls has tripled over the past 30 years and the demand has outpaced the staffing available to help.

In response to this growing crisis, the four participating fire companies are asking for help from the community in order to stay ahead of the increasing need for service.

“There is power in numbers. Collaborating together to spread the word about this joint initiative will be benefit all of our stations,” said Glendora Fire Company Chief Michael Ricciardelli who serves as the Chair of recruitment project.  

Why We Volunteer

The firefighters of Gloucester Township are all passionate about protecting lives and property during a blaze, but they each decided to volunteer for many different reasons and their sentiments are echoed through their chiefs.

“I like being part of something larger than myself,” said Erial Fire Chief Michael Breeze. “There’s camaraderie, excitement and you’re helping others. Plus, having volunteer firefighters help keep taxes lower.”

“I love to be able to assist my community during times of need,” said Chews Landing Fire Chief Michael Millisky. “I’ve also found a second family that I can rely on for anything.”

“I have the opportunity to help many people,” said Blenheim Fire Chief Gary Smith, “as well as be involved in my community.”

“It’s been in my family for generations,” Glendora’s Chief, Michael Ricciardelli said, “and it gives me pride to help others and serve my community.”

To assist with its recruitment campaign, the firefighters of Gloucester Township have hired the services of The Communication Solutions Group Inc., a full-service public relations and marketing firm based in Jenkintown, Pa.

The company is no stranger to working with area fire and rescue organizations, with New Jersey-set clients that include Millstone Fire Company, Hopewell Valley Fire District, Mt. Laurel EMS and Clinton EMS. “We feel privileged to work with these four fire companies and raise awareness of the need for volunteers through this comprehensive recruitment campaign,” said Raffel.  

For more information or to fill out a volunteer inquiry form, visit

Editor’s note: To interview any of the four Gloucester Township fire company chiefs, please contact Eric Devlin at 215-884-6499 or email