TOMS RIVER – To continue the next generation of volunteer firefighters in Toms River Fire District No.1, Andrew Goresh passed down his love of the fire service to his son, Daniel Goresh.
As a child, Daniel Goresh, 35, was fascinated with the fire service due to his dad’s involvement at East Dover Fire Company No. 4, one of four stations in Toms River.
“Even though I was young, any time I could go down to the fire house and help, I would,” said Dan.
When he was old enough to start the junior firefighter program at 16, Dan joined and has been involved in the volunteer fire service ever since.
Meanwhile, his dad, Andrew “Andy” Goresh, 68, had no prior experience or family members in the fire service, but he decided to give it a try in 1987. At the time, he was playing organized softball and his wife, Sharon, thought it was taking up too much of his spare time. Andy read a newspaper article that day about how badly volunteers were needed at local fire companies.
“I showed the article to her and said, ‘What about me doing this?’ and she said, ‘Why not? Anything would be better than all the time you spend with softball.’”
“If only she knew how much time volunteering would take,” said Andy.
Creating Lifelong Memories
Since joining East Dover, Andy’s experienced an incredible journey. Starting out on the executive side, he served as vice president and president of the fire company. Then he moved to the firematic side, serving as second lieutenant and rising through the ranks to chief in 2008 and again in 2019.
Currently, Andy serves as a one of the safety officers and now takes orders from Dan, who is captain.
“In a normal father-son relationship, the son is usually taking orders from the father,” said Dan, but despite the role-reversal, they cherish the experience of volunteering together.
“My dad died when I was 9 years old, so I did not get to do much with him,” said Andy. “Doing anything with Dan is just a dream come true for me.”
A memory that sticks out to Andy is when Dan was a lieutenant and responded to a structure fire. He was first on the scene and called command. While at work, Andy could only listen to Dan for a while on the radio, and when a senior officer arrived, he still let Dan run the job.
“Afterwards, so many people from both our company and other town companies came up to me and complimented Dan on his composure and the way he ran the job,” said Andy.
In Dan’s 15 years in the fire service, he has served as driver operator and lieutenant. In addition to be being captain, Dan is an instructor with Toms River Fire Training Center, but his love of firefighting doesn’t stop there. Dan received a Dual Bachelor of Science in fire science at the University of New Haven in Connecticut. He concentrated in fire administration and fire investigation with a minor in criminal justice.
“I credit being a member of East Dover, along with my father and mentors, for guiding me to achieve this milestone,” said Dan, who currently works as the captain of emergency services at Rutgers University. “Knowing I could take my knowledge, skills and abilities, and put them towards being paid and making a career out of something I loved to do made it an easy decision.”
Andy could tell that firefighting was a career in the making for Dan.
“I have been able to see him grow so much, both as a person and a firefighter,” said Andy. “When I see him teach new members and spend time with them explaining concepts and tactics, it just amazes me his ability to get across complex material so easily.”
Similar to his son, Andy has seen many junior firefighters start at East Dover and become career firefighters.
“I am proud of all of them that have gone onto great careers and hope to think I may have helped them in some small way to get where they are,” said Andy. “If you are looking to be a career firefighter, the volunteer fire company is the place to start.”
Training And Gear
Toms River Fire District No. 1 provides all its volunteers with top-tier training and gear.
“We are very fortunate in Toms River Township. Our Fire Commissioners provide our members with the best personal protective equipment, and we have a Fire Academy that is very highly regarded in the state of New Jersey,” said Andy.
In addition to regular trainings at East Dover’s station, volunteers take classes at Toms River Fire Academy and Ocean County Fire Academy at no charge. The equipment they use is continually evaluated to ensure volunteer firefighters are using tools that are both cost-effective and firefighter friendly.
“The education you can pursue is only limited by the time you care to invest in your future,” said Andy.
He has worked in customer service most of his life, and says the volunteer fire service is a large cross section of people from all levels of education and economic status.
“Nothing compares to the range of talent like a volunteer fire company,” said Andy. “To utilize all these people and their separate abilities that they bring to the table is probably the most satisfying skill I have learned over the years. Like a great conductor that brings together many instruments to create a beautiful symphony, it is what anyone would hope to be able to achieve.”
If any community members are interested in firefighting, Andy and Dan encourage them to give it a try.
“If you are looking to be a part of something bigger than yourself there is no better place,” said Dan.
To learn more about volunteering in Toms River Fire District No. 1 or sign up, visit TRfire.org.