It’s been said becoming a firefighter is like joining a brotherhood. And in the case of Nicholas Woods and Aaron Holcomb, it’s true, as the two men are a lot alike.
They’re both volunteer firefighters at Glendora Fire Company. They’re roughly the same age and both graduated from Triton Regional High School. They had the same dreams of joining the fire service when they were younger and they both feel like they’ve become a part of second family as volunteer firefighters.
Yet in many ways they are also very different people. From where they grew up, to their goals in life, their stories show that no matter who you are, having a passion for keeping your community safe is all that matters when it comes to fire fighting.
Destined to Serve
While he’s only been a firefighter at Glendora Fire Company for about three years officially, Woods, 19, could just as easily say he’s been there his whole life. “My dad was a firefighter,” he said. “So just growing up around it made me want to do it.”
The fire station has been an integral part of his life growing up. Woods remembers watching the fire trucks drive away to a call when he was a little boy and wishing he was on board to help.
When he first became a junior firefighter at Glendora, Woods remembered how challenging it was to learn the different functions of the tools and equipment on fire trucks, “but once you know the trucks then it’s all easy.”
He still remembers his first emergency call. “I was ready to go. I wasn’t nervous at all. I was more excited than anything to go on my first call,” he said. “I knew I was ready. I knew what to do. I knew how to do it. When the siren’s on and you know you’re going to help somebody, that’s the best part.”
He started firefighter school in February and graduated this past June. He hasn’t yet been on a real fire call, only minor traffic accidents or a natural gas release. That said, each of those situations has helped prepare him for the future. “It helps me learn for when I have to fight a fire. I’ll know what to do,” he said.
Meanwhile, Holcomb, 20, has been an active firefighter with Glendora for about two-and-a-half years, starting as a junior in high school. He also grew up loving to watch fire trucks drive past his daycare. The view captured his imagination and he knew he too wanted to become a firefighter one day. When he moved to New Jersey from Delaware six years ago, and was old enough to start volunteering as a firefighter, he jumped at the chance. “It’s something I thought about all my life,” he said. “I was just never old enough to do it.”
His first real fire call came shortly after he graduated from firefighter school. The call came from inside Lakeview Apartments. “When you’re a junior firefighter, there’s not much responsibility on a call,” he said. “After fire school, I remember thinking ‘this is it. I’m the one who may have to go in there.’ It was nerve-wracking. A million things are going through your head. ‘What tools will I need to use? What will my job be?’ We ended up standing by as backup, in case extra firefighters were needed. It was definitely nerve-wracking, but it was good.”
The two men haven’t been on many calls together, but respect each other’s skills and dedication.
“He’s a great team player,” said Holcomb. “He just got out of fire school but he knows what he’s doing. We communicate very well.”
“He’s a good firefighter; he knows what he’s doing,” said Woods. “He has a lot of drive to do it.”
Outside the fire service, Woods is currently studying fire science at Camden County Community College. Holcomb meanwhile works at the Turnersville Auto Mall and is enrolling in Pennco Tech to become an HVAC technician.
Joining a Second Family
Holcomb and Woods agree that joining the station at Glendora was like joining a second family.
When Holcomb first became a member of the station, he remembered feeling overwhelmed by his new responsibilities but welcome. “Everybody took me in with open arms,” he said. “It was a good experience. You become a family pretty quickly.”
With a few years now under their belts, Woods and Holcomb said they still have plenty to learn themselves, but they did have advice to anyone thinking about joining the fire service.
“Always ask questions, especially if you join as a junior,” said Holcomb. “Take in as much knowledge as you can before you get into fire school. I was fortunate enough to join six months prior to fire school, so I had six months-worth of running calls. As a junior you can’t get off the truck and do things that all the other guys do but you get to watch them and learn from what they do. So soak up all the knowledge. Learn as much as you can.”
The biggest piece of advice was to just sign up.
“You’re helping the community,” said Holcomb. “It is a good thing.”
There’s a Role for Everyone
The Blenheim, Chews Landing, Erial and Glendora fire companies need volunteer firefighters ready to serve their community. If you, or someone you know, are ready to help sign up today. No experience is required. The training and equipment are free and the feeling of helping your neighbors is incomparable.
Firefighting is our passion. Volunteering is our tradition. Make it yours. Go to FirefightersofGloucesterTwp.org today.