HATBORO >> It was in 1996 when James Anders III joined Enterprise Fire Company of Hatboro as a volunteer firefighter that he first met John Kulick.
At 27, Kulick was already a veteran firefighter. He had been with Enterprise for more than 10 years and eventually rose to the rank of deputy chief.
“This is a guy I will never forget,” stated Anders, who was recently elected chief of Enterprise. “He was cool, was very knowledgeable about the fire service and had a positive attitude. He gave me a tour of the firehouse, showed me the apparatus and the tools used and answered all my questions.”
During Operation Iraqi Freedom, Kulick was a specialist for the Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 111th Infantry Regiment. On Aug. 9, 2005, he was killed in action in Bayji, Iraq, at the age of 35.
Kulick was the one who took Anders to his first fire, recalled the new Enterprise chief.
“I was going through the introductory period and wasn’t qualified to ride any of the trucks yet. While we were both at the firehouse, the company was dispatched to a dwelling fire in Upper Moreland Township. Kulick said, ‘Let’s go!’ and I hopped into his personal vehicle. En route, he threw me the map book and told me to give him the best route to get to the fire. I looked at him, and said I don’t know anything about reading a map. It just so happened I saw a fire truck barreling down and made a left turn. So I said, ‘That’s the road to take. Go there!’ When we got to the scene, I watched the whole process unfolding and I couldn’t wait till my introductory period ended and I could finally get into the field as a full-fledged firefighter.”
His experience with Kulick is the basis for one of 39-year-old Anders’ major goals as chief of the fire company. Enterprise, along with all volunteer fire companies, is always in need of new members. Once a volunteer is recruited, he or she needs to go through an introductory period. This is where a good mentor plays a crucial role, said Anders, and “I know of no better mentor than John Kulick.” Accordingly, Anders wants to develop a strong mentor program.
“A new member gets mentored by a member who has been with the fire company for some time. The experienced firefighter can educate the new member on what each apparatus does, the tools used, the training requirements and learn about the company’s command structure,” explained Anders.
One of the reasons for the decline in the number of volunteer firefighters is long training hours, Anders pointed out. Even without specialized training, it takes 180 hours of training just to qualify as a firefighter. If a volunteer is married, working two jobs or going to college, how does one find the necessary training time?
To help remedy the situation, Anders has implemented a second training night. Training has, in the past, been limited to a two-hour session on Wednesday
“I’ve added Tuesday evenings as well. If a volunteer can’t make Wednesday, then he can come in on Tuesday instead. You miss training and you are behind the eight-ball Once the volunteer has the training down pat, he will then be able to be certified at the Fire Academy in Conshohocken for engine, ladder and rescue operations.”
Another Anders’ goal is to have volunteers set a specific time frame in which a training objective will be met.
“Whether it be two, four or six months, setting a target date is vital. I try to meet with each volunteer to see how it’s going and determine if it will be finished in the appropriate time frame. It’s always good to know if you’re on the right track; if not, your program might have to be tweaked,” said Anders.
During his 19 years with Enterprise FC, he has held the ranks of lieutenant, captain, assistant chief and deputy chief.
A graduate of Hatboro-Horsham High School, Anders is a residential/commercial electrical contractor.