Scholarship Spotlight: NBFAA/Security Dealer Scholarship Awards

The NBFAA/Security Dealer Youth Scholarship Program was formed in 1996 to establish and maintain a positive relationship between the alarm industry and police/fire officials. The program provides a scholarship to a son or daughter of police and fire officials, and recipients are selected based on academic achievement and an essay about "How [Their] Father, Mother, or Guardian Helps Us Secure Our Community."

The program is participated in by 15 NBFAA state associations, which offer scholarships on a state level. With the support of Security Dealer, a national first and second place are given, with awards of $6,500 and $3,500 respectively.

This year's winners were David Eichler of Mountain Lakes, N.J., and Jason Fariss of Pfafftown, N.C. See earlier news release.

Eichler's award winning, first-place essay appears below, and it demonstrates why the NBFAA/Security Dealer scholarship recognizes our partners in emergency response.

Interested persons can learn more about the NBFAA/Security Dealer scholarship online.


"How My Father Helps Us Secure Our Community"
By David Eichler

12:15 A.M. Tuesday night, I finished my homework and collapsed into bed. I was asleep by the time my head hit the pillow.

3:15 A.M. I was rudely awakened by my screeching pager. Jumping out of bed I heard the dispatcher's voice: "Structure fire with possible victims, 131 Lake Drive." I lost all feelings of exhaustion as adrenaline pumped through my body. Still in my pajamas, I rushed to the front door and met my dad. Together we head over to Mountain Lakes Fires Department, hopped on the engine with other determined yet groggy firefighters and quickly put on 40 pounds of gear. We arrived at the scene to find a house engulfed in bright orange flames with smoke billowing up to the moonlit sky.

We jumped from the truck to do a "scene size up" to determine the best way to attack the fire. I quickly dispatched four Junior Firefighters to get the hydrant running and prepare air bottles and air packs, while my father launched an attack team with the pre-connected hose-lines, tools and the standard house hook-up bag towards the front door. As soon as they got to the fire floor he made sure that water was flowing in the hoses. During that time, I sent 20 eagerly waiting Junior Members to help at the scene; throwing ladders, firing hoses and replacing air bottles. After ten minutes of waiting anxiously, the onlookers were relieved to see a 90-year old man carried from the house by a team of firefighters. Although he was in shock, he had only minor burns. After 30 minutes the fire was extinguished, and my dad and I entered the house with other members to check the walls for possible remaining hot spots.

4:45 A.M. Our work was done; the homeowner was saved, but the house had sustained major damage. With adrenaline still pumping, we drove back home hoping to get some sleep.

Later, as I lay in bed, I replayed that night's events. In the three and a half years I have been on the Junior Fire Department, and the seven years my father has been on the Senior Department, we have trained for moments just like this- a moment in which we could use our knowledge to make a difference.

As President of the Mountain Lakes Volunteer Fire Department for the past three years, my father has worked to revitalize the image of the Fire Department within the community and enhance the experience of the members. One of his greatest accomplishments was researching, lobbying for and attaining a Length of Service Awards Program (LOSAP) for the Department. This has been an important factor in attracting new members and retaining veteran firefighters. His efforts were rewarded when he was named "Volunteer Firefighter of the Year" in 2002.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever does," wrote anthropologist Margaret Mead.

My dad has taught me that volunteer firefighting exemplifies the sense of community referred to by Mead. A community is only as strong as its individual members, and as citizens we have the responsibility to be active participants. Our family's sense of belonging to Mountain Lakes is greatly enhanced by the direct involvement in the Volunteer Fire Department by my father and me. Our commitment as volunteer firefighters gives us the satisfaction of knowing that we play a significant role in our community. On this one night, for this one gentleman, we truly made a difference.

6:45 A.M. BEEP...BEEP...BEEP...Another fire call? No that's just my alarm clock. With school beginning in one hour, I do not have the luxury of hitting the snooze button.