This content was provided by Fairfax County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association.
What started as a celebratory evening with coworkers in Arlington, Va., quickly turned into a harrowing and chaotic situation for Timo Klotz in August of 2022.
Klotz, a volunteer firefighter with the McLean Volunteer Fire Department, found himself in the wrong place at the right time when an Uber driver crashed into Ireland’s Four Courts pub on Wilson Boulevard.
Klotz had left the restaurant to move his car when he heard a loud bang. “People were screaming,” Klotz recalled. The crash left a gaping hole in the building, which was filling with flames and smoke.
Customers, who just moments earlier had been smiling, chatting and enjoying themselves, were suddenly in serious danger.
“When I looked toward the restaurant, I realized that there was a big hole in front,” Klotz said. “I ended up running across the street and then entered the restaurant through the hole that the car had made.”
There was an urgent need for medical attention.
“When I got in there, I saw multiple people injured lying on the ground,” Klotz said. “Others were buried under tables.”
Klotz was credited with saving lives as he provided vital assistance to the panicked patrons.
“I realized that there was a fire to the left of me,” Klotz explained. “Because of that, I told everybody who was in there that we needed to get people out.”
Not only did Klotz work to evacuate Ireland’s Four Courts, but he also helped treat patients on the scene until the first ambulance arrived.
Arlington County police investigated the crash, ultimately determining that the Uber driver had suffered a medical emergency.
All nine people who went to the hospital recovered and were released.
Why become a volunteer?
At its core, volunteering with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department is an act of community stewardship.
Every day, volunteers such as Klotz stand side-by-side with career professionals to save lives, protect property and forge ties within communities across the county.
“We work hand-in-hand,” Klotz said. “It’s a really great organization because you can do different things for the fire department by becoming an operational or an administrative member.”
Volunteering is a direct investment in the safety and prosperity of those who live and work in the area.
By dedicating one’s time and expertise, volunteers actively contribute to the safety and protection of their neighbors and their communities.
“With the skills and training I gained through Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, I was able to help get people out of the building that day at Ireland’s Four Courts,” Klotz explained.
Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department offers comprehensive training programs that equip volunteers with the knowledge and skills necessary to respond effectively to a wide range of emergencies.
The training encompasses areas including medical response, hazardous materials handling and technical rescue operations.
Knowledge gained through training exercises is not only practical within Fairfax County, but it also translates to a broader understanding of emergency response, teamwork and leadership.
A life-changing experience
Volunteers have the unique privilege of being on the front lines of emergencies, where their contributions make a critical difference in the outcomes for individuals and families as they face some of the most difficult situations they will ever have to endure.
Swift and effective responses from volunteers often mean the difference between life and death, and the sense of camaraderie and teamwork fostered within the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department is immeasurable.
Volunteers form lasting bonds with fellow firefighters and first responders, creating a network that extends far beyond the volunteer service itself.
Those connections often lead to lifelong friendships and professional relationships.
“Some of the best friends I have I met through the fire department,” said Klotz. “The department is kind of like my second family.”
The sense of personal fulfillment derived from being a part of the county’s fire department is immense.
Knowing that one is making a positive impact, often in the most challenging and critical moments, brings a deep sense of pride and accomplishment.
“It’s very rewarding,” said Klotz. “Being out there giving back to the community is something that has really made a difference, not just in the lives of others but in my life as well.”
For more information about volunteering in Fairfax County, visit www.JoinFairfaxFire.org.