Volunteer fire and emergency service runs in the blood of some Hopewell Valley families. You’ll find just that in “Meet the Firefighting Families of Hopewell Valley,” a four-part series in which you’ll meet several of them!
Part 1: At the Pennington Fire Company, everyone predicts a day when the Demareski boys and their dad will fully crew a fire engine all by themselves.
Part 2: Union Fire Company & Rescue Squad husband-and-wife team David and Julie Crum each followed multiple generations into their volunteer life-saving and leadership roles;
Part 3: Hopewell Fire Department & Emergency Medical Unit’s fire house is the second home of more than a dozen Toths; and
Part 4: Volunteer with Relatives or Without. A Second Family Awaits
“Our volunteers serve a vital community role – one that also happens to be exciting and fulfilling. Fire houses and rescue squads are also fun, exciting, and welcoming places,” said Hopewell Township Fire District Board of Commissioners Chairman Michael Chipowsky. “Once someone of any age experiences the culture, they often want to be part of it.”
Part I: Two Sons – and Counting – Follow Dad to Pennington Fire Company
Someone has to be the first in a family, and that was Roger Demareski, who became a volunteer firefighter after college graduation in 1991, and joined Pennington Fire Company in 2008.
As soon as Roger’s oldest son, Jack, turned 16, he signed up as a junior. The following year, Peter Demareski turned 16 and joined, too.
“You’re completely relaxed one minute, and then going 100 miles an hour the next,” Jack said. “You can be at school with your teacher one day in the morning, and then that night, the fire alarm is going off, and you have an opportunity to give back, to help out your neighbor.”
“It’s amazing,” said Peter, about helping neighbors in the community. “It’s always a good feeling to see families around the community who know you, know you are a member of the fire company, and are thankful that we are there and able to do the things we do for them.”
Junior firefighters are not permitted to enter a burning building, but they train alongside older members and assist on scene. The excitement is contagious. Friends of both Peter and Jack have joined.
“I would recommend it to anybody,” Jack said. “If you like serving your community, firefighting is definitely for you.”
Peter and Jack have responded to calls with their dad, and the three even worked together at a 2am house fire.
“It makes me feel old,” Roger joked. Then, getting serious, he adds: “My wife and I set out to raise kids who are honest, kind, and for whom helping others is important. What they are doing has made us very proud.”
There is more Demareski firefighters to come. Joe, now 11, and Patrick, 7, are frequently at the fire house, too, and Joe and his buddy Jackson Blackwell, whose dad Tom is a long-time Pennington firefighter, talk often about how great it will be to join.
Jack is a 2018 graduate of Hopewell Valley High School. During his senior year, in addition to volunteering as a firefighter, he also played varsity football, basketball, and lacrosse, was active in the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps, and volunteered to raise awareness and money for cancer research.
He recently received an appointment to the United States Merchant Marine Academy, but whenever he is on leave, he will ride with his father and brother for Pennington.
Peter will be a senior this fall at Hopewell Valley and plans to continue volunteering with the fire company, take his emergency medical technician training during the fall, and attend the fire academy in the spring to attain Firefighter I certification. Peter’s interest in community service extends beyond the firehouse and he has been an active Police Explorer with the Flemington Police Department and recently attended a week of training at the New Jersey State Police Academy.
Stay tuned for more in this series and thank you to all our first responders!
You and your family can be an integral part of the Hopewell Valley volunteer firefighter and EMS family. For more information, please visit www.ProtectHopewellValley.com, or call Matthew Martin at 609-537-0287