'I get joy in helping people in need'

F.S. resident — a new mother — describes a life shaped by firefighting


asn’t dreaming of being a princess, like other girls her age. She wasn’t spending much time playing with Barbies or building dollhouses.

Instead, she fantasized about one day saving houses from fires.

“I’ve been going to the firehouse ever since I was a little girl,” DeRosa, now 27, told the Herald. “I get joy in helping people in need.”

Her childhood dream — to throw on firefighting gear, ride the truck and save lives — was fostered by her stepfather, who helped raise Tara and has served with the South Hempstead Fire Department for more than two decades.

DeRosa has been a resident of Franklin Square for five years, and a volunteer firefighter for the Elmont Fire Department for the past four. For the past seven years she has been a full-time emergency medical technician for the New York City Fire Department, in Far Rockaway, Queens. The eldest of five siblings, DeRosa said that it is her volunteer work with the EFD that has helped shape her life — and she encourages others, male or female, to do the same.

“The Elmont Fire Department trains you so well,” she said. “All of the classes and drills, they really make you more caring and a more responsible person, to look out for others.”

She added that being a part of the EFD has made her life outside firefighting fulfilling as well. “There’s so many advantages,” she said of volunteering, explaining that the department helps pay for schooling for its firefighters if they have Civil Service jobs. Her fellow firefighters, whom she thinks of as her “brothers and fathers,” have mentored her, and offered career- and life-related advice. The department, she said, is a great place to go when you want to hang out and get away — and she referred to it as family.

DeRosa’s life has truly been shaped by firefighting. She met her fiancé, who is also a volunteer for the EFD and an FDNY firefighter, in a fire science class at Nassau Community College. Together they have a baby boy who will turn 1 this month — and who they will encourage to follow in their firefighting footsteps. Even with her family, DeRosa said, she always finds the time to help the community and stay involved with the department.

“It’s hard,” she admits, “but it’s doable. [The EFD] understand I have a baby. I feel like I’m not even involved as much as I would like to be.”

She added that, given all the benefits of volunteering, she hopes her story will inspire others to do the same. “Even if you don’t do the firefighting, you can do EMS,” she said. “It teaches you morals as you move up the ranks. Being responsible for people’s lives, it really just teaches you how to be a better person.”