Volunteer Spotlight: Howard Cohen

Name: Howard Cohen 
Location: Burlington, VT
Current Position: Trainer with the Africa Fire Mission 

Why are you an NVFC member?
The NVFC was my lifeline out of the silo of my small, semi-rural fire department. Since discovering NVFC, I have connected with firefighters all over North America, had access to high-quality online trainings that are targeted towards volunteer firefighters, and learned about other great opportunities. I wish I had known about NVFC much earlier in my fire service career.  

What is your occupation?
Rabbi and writer  

Why are you a fire service volunteer?
I was initially asked to be a chaplain at a department. I agreed, providing I could get firefighting training. Once I got my first taste of firefighting, I was hooked. I love the blend of physical activity and intellectual stimulation all for the purpose of being in service to others. 

What year did you join the fire or emergency services?

What are your memorable moments as a firefighter or EMS provider?
My most memorable moment lasted seven days. Through the NVFC, I learned about another volunteer opportunity for firefighters called Africa Fire Mission (AFM). With AFM, I traveled to Africa to teach firefighting and had the opportunity to bring my firefighting training to a global audience. Most of my other memorable experiences involved fire education within my community. For example, I found visits with the fire apparatus to local schools very meaningful. Another special moment was reading the book Sprinkles, about a little dog that wants to be a fire dog, to a group of preschoolers.  

What contributions have you (and your department) made in your community?
I organized a program to distribute reflective house numbers to make it easier to find houses at night. I convinced the management of a senior housing apartment to swap ionization smoke detectors with photoelectric ones. I wrote and published several fire safety articles in our local paper. I am an active member of the Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team. My department also helps out at a variety of community events.  

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