After 35 years with the Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department, Lou Kaufman steps into a new role as its president.
Kaufman, 66, was elected at the department’s monthly business meeting on June 11, and is already working towards several goals he has established.
The first is an aggressive campaign to increase volunteer membership.
“It is quite different nowadays than it used to be,” Kaufman said. “People are pulled in so many different directions, work longer hours and have longer commutes. People don’t have the time to devote to train, or remain competent to serve the community.”
Kaufman said not only do people have less time, but the training times have increased as basic-level training requires well over 1,000 hours to complete.
“There are certainly benefits, though,” he said. “It’s the experience of a lifetime. There is nothing more exciting or rewarding than helping your neighbors.”
Kaufman’s next priority is financial responsibility, including fundraising for a new ladder truck
“In 1995, we purchased our ladder truck for just under $500,000,” Kaufman said. “It is overdue for replacement, and will cost $1.2 million.”
Kaufman said he would continue to work closely with the department’s auxiliary, which is its fundraising arm. Auxiliary members coordinate birthday parties and plan events including a community yard sale on Sept. 13, and the annual Open House on Oct. 5.
His involvement with the county’s Fire and Rescue Service began in 1970, when he joined the Wheaton Rescue Squad. He joined the Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department in 1979, after moving to Olney.
Kaufman has served the department in various capacities, including several terms as an officer and four years as the department’s chief.
“I did all that as a volunteer,” he said. “My vocation that pays the bills is a respiratory therapist. When I got promoted to vice president for the company I worked for, it just took too much time, which took me away from the fire department.”
Although he was not out running calls, Kaufman remained involved, serving as the department’s assistant chaplain until he retired in 2012.
After retiring in 2012, Kaufman said he found himself with more free time and with Michael Valente stepping down as president, Kaufman stepped up.
Department Chief Michael Kelley said Sandy Spring is fortunate to have an experienced leader like Kaufman in the role of president.
“He brings over 40 years experience to the board room, including many years as the department’s fire chief,” said Kelley. “Not only was he one of the first paramedics in Montgomery County, he has also been an instructor and mentor to thousands of volunteers throughout the county over the past several decades.”
Kelley said he looks forward to a productive working relationship with Kaufman.
“We have served together on many committees and workgroups over the years, both locally and countywide,” he said. “We will continue that professional relationship as we work to complete the many projects now under way at the Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department.”