By Angela Higginbotham
Three years ago, former volunteer firefighter and St. Johns County resident Dave Kirschbaum created a volunteer organization he calls 2nd Alarmers. His vision was to provide assistance to St. Johns County Fire Rescue (SJCFR) both on and off the scene. Kirschbaum and his volunteers give their time freely in an effort to assist firefighters at major fires in St. Johns County.
“Supporting St. Johns County fire and rescue is our way of giving back,” said Kirschbaum. “The volunteers receive a text when there is a fire and those that can go help will be there to do whatever they can. We don’t do anything dangerous or anything that we aren’t qualified to do. We let those who are trained handle the main tasks and we are there to offer support.”
Currently, Kirschbaum’s organization has grown to approximately 30 volunteers who hand out bottled water and assist with other duties. One simple idea has helped St. Johns County Fire Rescue work more efficiently and stay hydrated at the scene. The 2nd Alarmers have assisted SJCFR at major residential fires and events at locations spanning the entire county.
Volunteers are trained by SJCFR to operate a rehab trailer, which is most often utilized at major fire or long term response events. The rehab trailer contains additional air bottles and equipment to refill the depleted air bottles of firefighters. The trailer also contains an ice chest with bottled water. As firefighters rotate out of a fire, trained 2nd Alarmers assist them in exchanging their empty air bottle for a full one, provide water for rehydration and refill the empty air bottles for future use.
2nd Alarmers take pride in operating the rehab trailer at SJCFR training exercises for the 18 fire stations of St. Johns County. The volunteers have also provided assistance at major St Johns County events such as THE PLAYERS golf tournament and the New Year’s Eve St. Augustine Beach Blast. Community education is also an important role supported by the 2nd Alarmers for SJCFR. Hands-only CPR and fire prevention training at county schools play a large role in their involvement in community outreach.
A registered 501c3 non profit, the organization started with former firefighters, but has grown to include retired and working members from all walks of life. The activities of the 2nd Alarmers are varied and expanding. Those interested in joining this organization are sure to find something of interest in an area they are passionate about.
“We are always looking for more members. The more active, steadfast volunteers we have, the more we can do to help,” Kirschbaum said.
Volunteers must be at least 21 years of age to join. For more information, contact the 2nd Alarmers Association of St. Johns County at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (904) 625-7579.
Photo courtesy 2nd Alarmers
2nd Alarmers at the rehab unit.