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Since 1986, I have served the Volunteer Fire Service of West Virginia and briefly, California. Over 26 years of service have enabled me to see an entire gambit of training techniques, operational practices and of course, fire house politics. Since 1994, I've been a member of the Danville Volunteer Fire Department where I have served as a fire fighter, engineer, officer and Chief.
Through the years, I have seen many strange and horrific things through my involvement in the service. With these events, I have also witnessed and been a part of, many happy moments. The friends one acquires through the fire service is different than any other method I've been a part of. I guess the closest thing to the bond of firefighters would be the bond of those under fire on the battlefield. While I cannot imagine what it's like to be "under fire" in that respect, I can tell you what it's like to be "under fire" in my line of volunteer work.
As of Dec 31 2011, I retired as Chief of the Danville Volunteer Fire Department. I now serve as an Engineer in the department with over 20 years of service, which qualified me for "Lifetime Membership". At the present time, I am concentrating my volunteer fire service time on the duties I have assumed in the West Virginia State Firemen's Association as the 3rd Vice President, Legislative Committee Member and Chair of the Public Relations Committee and as the current President of the Boone County Fire Fighter's Mutual Aid Association.
I can safely tell you, there's much more to being a firefighter than simply responding on calls. Most of our work is done at the station, maintaining the equipment to a constant state of readiness and doing the paperwork associated with the fire service.
I hope that my contribution to the fire service will somehow make a difference to the lives of those I serve. Sometimes, I strive too hard for perfection from my department and the membership. The volunteers at our department sacrifice their time and in some cases, hard earned money, to the benefit of the community. I only hope that one day, the majority of the citizens understand what it's like to be a volunteer firefighter and cut a little slack to those that serve.