Samuel Grandfield, 18, of Waterbury, Vt., a senior at Harwood Union High School, has volunteered for the past two years to help people in his community stay safe by serving as a junior firefighter for his local fire department. He was inspired to join the department by his former middle school teacher, who volunteered to fight fires despite a rare liver disease that ended up taking her life. “Her sense of duty and desire to help others is what motivates me to this day to help others and give back to my community,” said Sam.
As a junior firefighter, Sam had to learn about all of the equipment used in responding to emergencies, and now has to train constantly to stay fit and maintain required skills. He has responded to numerous fires, ranging from small stove fires to large structure blazes, as well as several car accidents. Although he is not allowed yet to enter a burning building, he assists by managing fire hoses outside, directing traffic, and cleaning and maintaining equipment after calls. He also has taught young people about fire safety at department open houses, and helped clean chimneys for community members. After hearing about Sam’s experience as a firefighter, three of his friends also joined the fire department. “Being a firefighter isn’t just a project,” said Sam. “It’s a commitment to serve your community, to sacrifice for others.”