17 year old Ryan Osterlind of Burlington Township is no stranger to emergency services. His father Lars is a former volunteer firefighter in Williingboro, his uncle Erik is a retired Willingboro Police Officer, and his uncle Jim is a current full-time firefighter in Willingboro. He is also no stranger to scouting, where he started as a Cub Scout at the age of six, and is now a Life Scout, and working on becoming an Eagle Scout. While driving through Burlington Township, Westampton, and then into Willingboro while on his way to work, he noticed a difference in the fire hydrants. The ones in Willingboro didn't have reflective markers on them, and with that he discovered the idea for his Eagle Scout Project.
In April of 2017 Ryan started working on his project. He first had to start the process for his program which goes as follow: project proposal, approval, written summary, and project completion. The project proposal first had to be approved by the Eagle Scout Review Board. With the help of his Uncle Jim, Ryan also received approval from Chief of Department Anthony Burnett. Chief Burnett ensured Ryan that his project would be a top priority of the department's.
Ryan is the administrator for the project. It is his job to oversee the fundraising, purchasing of the markers, creating a plan to get the markers on the hydrants, and handling any questions and problems that may arise. He does have access to adult advisors as needed, but the responsibility of the entire project rests on Ryan's shoulders. With the project being approved, Ryan was now tasked with researching the best kind of markers for the hydrants.
There are many types of fire hydrants markers that Ryan had to research for the project. Other choices included reflective paint on the street, or poles that have reflective tape around them. The markers chose for the project were the best to meet the needs of the department. The paint could be covered by snow in the winter, or removed if the road is resurfaced, and the poles are easy to break or be removed by vandals. The hydrant markers that were purchased from Mark-A-Hydrant.com, and are made of a durable plastic, and are very difficult to break. Once the project was proposed and approved, and the research completed, the next step was funding the project.
To fund the project, he created a GoFundMe page to help raise the money to buy the markers. Each marker cost $9, and there are over 1,000 fire hydrants in Willingboro. The initial fundraising efforts did not allow for markers to be purchased for every hydrant, but Ryan was able to purchase enough to complete a few hundred hydrants throughout town. Chief Burnett and the Willingboro Municipal Utilities Authority are working to secure funding to purchase the markers for the remaining hydrants in the future. Donations were received by many people, including $1,000 from Radwell International.
The installation of the markers was no easy task. Ryan had to outline the parts of town that were initially going to receive the markers. Once that task was complete, it was time to round up some help. Ryan had to enlist the assistance of friends, fellow scouts, and the fire department to install the markers on the hydrants. On the night of October 25th, the installation team met at the temporary firehouse on Middlebury Lane. Everyone was issued a reflective vest, a hydrant wrench, hydrant markers, and was assigned to a fire department vehicle.
In just over an hour, the crews were able to complete all of the hydrants in Millbrook Park. On the morning of November 9th, another group met with firefighters to continue installing markers on other hydrants in town. On that morning, hydrants were completed in Fairmout, Garfield, Hawthorne Parks, and the Willingboro Town Center. The remaining areas of the town will be completed in the future, once funding is secured to purchase the additional markers.
With the completion of the project for the time being, Ryan will now have to complete a written summary of the project. This summary will be given to the leaders of the scouts, and will be one of the final tasks necessary to help determine if Ryan will be named an Eagle Scout. The Willingboro Fire Department would like to thank Ryan, his family, friends, and fellow scouts for working on this project. It is a project that will continue to serve the department for years to come.