By Jim Lambert
Ryan Woods has always had a passion for helping people and giving back to his community.
The senior at Union Catholic felt that one of the best ways he could do that was to become a firefighter.
Woods recently fulfilled that longtime dream when he graduated from the Morris County Fire Academy to become a Probationary Firefighter.
Woods, who lives in Basking Ridge, is now a full member of the Liberty Corner Fire Company, which consists of about 65-70 volunteers and covers the Southern portion of Basking Ridge/Bernards Township. Woods had served as a Junior Volunteer firefighter for Liberty Corner since 2016, and is currently the Junior President of the Liberty Corner Fire Company.
“It feels great having done this,’’ said Woods. “Graduating from the academy was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. There are lot of Junior Members that have been through the program and have been very successful.,and I’m proud to be considered one of them.’’
Woods said he wanted to become a firefighter since he was a kid.
“I’ve always had a relative interest in becoming a firefighter ever since I was a kid,’’ said Woods. “I jokingly say that every kid wants to be a firefighter when they grow up. I was the one who really meant it. In seventh grade when I found out my company (Liberty Corner) had a program when you turn 16, I decided I wanted to do this, not as a career, but as a profession where I can give back to my community. The feeling of giving back to my community is something that is very, very important to me. I like to know that I’m helping neighbors and friends. My parents and my friends all supported me 100 percent in this, which I’m grateful for.’’
In order to become a Probationary Firefighter, Woods had to undergo a rigorous 17 week Firefighter One Class that began this past August.
During the training program, Woods and the other candidates had to perform the basic operations of fire suppression, fire prevention, search and rescue, salvage, and ventilation.
Woods was trained on how to search a room properly, how to bring a fire hose into a building, how to deal
with entanglement hazards such as wires, and had to perform various safety and survival and duties.
“It was intense training,’’ said Woods. “There was a live fire element that was very realistic with propane powered props that involved a car fire and a house fire, and we had to go through a maze with zero visibility because the area was smoked out and dark. And we had only had 30 minutes of air, and we were carrying 50 pounds of equipment.’’
Woods, who has already responded to over 200 fire calls since 2016, is now looking to earn his EMT certification and wants to join the Liberty Corner First Aid Squad, and would like to do the training in Fire Fighter 2 Class, and for vehicle extrication.
Woods, who is an altar server, Eucharistic Minister, works on the UC Livestream and UCTV, and is a Student Council homeroom representative, is very excited about his future plans.
“I want to get into emergency management, FEMA type stuff, or become a 911 dispatcher,’’ said Woods, who plans to attend Monmouth University and major in Homeland Security. “I’m really excited about excelling in my career. It’s something I’m really looking forward to.’’