Volunteer Spotlight: Chris Hajder

Name: Chris Hajder
Title: Lieutenant
Department Name: Swansea Fire Department
Location: Swansea, MA

Why are you an NVFC member?
As a member of my community’s volunteer fire department for over 31 years, I find myself becoming the “old guy” and looking to pass on what knowledge and information (or lack thereof) that I’ve learned from “my elders.” With that being said, recruitment and retention have become a priority with not only my department, but surrounding communities. I’m slowly becoming a local voice for change and I’m now looking for help on the national setting. If I, and I mean WE, fail to look to the future and keep the past in the rearview mirror (I guess the side mirrors too), I think it’s a disservice to the next generation.

What is your occupation?

Why are you a fire service volunteer?
31+ years ago I saw one of my older cousins jump off his chair, run to his car, throw up a red dash light, and respond to a fire call. I was intrigued but knew I was hooked. I knew I wanted to serve my community, and the rest is history.

What year did you join the fire or emergency services?

What are your memorable moments as a firefighter or EMS provider?
My first year as a “rookie,” my company assisted several companies at a brush/forest fire with numerous acres of involvement. Within minutes a senior captain had collapsed of an apparent heart attack, and I was in awe at the quick response of brother firefighters and EMS to revive Captain Wilde. I watched grown men do CPR, mouth-to-mouth (yes back then), and cry in vain to revive a highly respected senior member of our small department. I will never forget the looks of fear, frustration, determination on their faces…yes, I can still see the day like it was yesterday…

What contributions have you (and your department) made in your community?
Our department is supported by a town that continues to “pay-it-forward.” We fundraise as companies to give back to our members and most of all our community youth sport teams, scholarships, civic projects, and family outreach.

Interested in serving your community? Find volunteer fire service opportunities at www.MakeMeAFirefighter.org.