Firefighters association scholarship awardee reflects on service as a teen volunteer firefighter

Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 3:15 PM EDT
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VESTAL (WBNG) -- A Vestal teen was awarded a scholarship by the Firefighters Association of the State of New York for her efforts as a volunteer firefighter.

Molly Hubbard started the process of becoming a firefighter at the young age of 16. With a legacy of service in her family: Her mother was a firefighter and her grandfather dawned the helmet for more than 50 years; to those who knew her it did not come as a surprise.

“I did the Vestal Youth Police Academy and was like ‘I really want to do this,’” said Hubbard. “So, it was a conversation that [my mom] knew was coming and she was like, ‘I’m just going to let [Molly] do it and get her feet wet.’”

From the moment Vestal Fire Police Captain Dave Foland met her, he knew she would succeed.

“She’s a go-getter,” said Foland. “Anything that was ever asked of her to do she rolls up her sleeves up and just dives right in.”

“I’ve climbed ladders,” said Hubbard. “I get to use the air packs on the trucks which is really cool and then the hoses are some of my favorite parts of the fire truck.”

“It’s a lot of hard and heavy work,” said Foland. “As a matter of fact, one of our young boys was here and they had a little competition going between them and Molly was able to outshine him in a couple of spots so that was pretty cool.”

“I’m a woman and I’m younger doing it but, I get treated the same as if I was any other person, which is awesome,” said Hubbard. “I wouldn’t want to be treated any differently.”

Hubbard said the award from FASNY means so much more than a dollar amount.

“The fire department holds a place in my heart,” said Hubbard. “Not only because it was in my family, but because I have a second family here.”

It is that love for her community that Safety Officer Bob Bryant said will keep volunteer departments like theirs going.

“The younger generation gets involved in this, they learn from our older members, from the more experienced and then they take that and adapt it,” said Byrant. “They pass that on to other newer members as they come up and down the line.”

While Hubbard heads off to the next chapter of her life, she knows giving back will always be a priority.

“No matter where I am or where I go I’m definitely joining and continuing in the fire department,” said Hubbard. “I don’t want to let go of this, it’s so much fun, I love the people. This is something that is going to be lifelong for me.”

Hubbard is attending SUNY Fredonia in the fall with plans to study biology.

She was one of 25 students from across New York that were chosen for the Gerard J. Buckenmeyer FASNY Volunteer Scholarship.