Chester County Fire Chiefs Association salutes volunteer firefighting dads

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Editor’s Note: As we celebrate Father’s Day this year, the Chester County Fire Chiefs Association gives a special thank you to all dads who volunteer to keep Chester County lives safe and encourages more to do the same by learning about the many volunteer opportunities available at www.helpfightfire.com.    

Rick King and Family

Four years ago, Rick King had one of his proudest moments as a father and volunteer firefighter. Having kept Chester County lives safe for over four decades, King was serving as president of Glenmoore Fire Company for its centennial anniversary, while his son Mike was the company fire chief.

“It was a great feeling to be able to go through a big event like that and be able to be part of the whole Glenmoore family,” said King, now 61. “Having your son be chief, that’s a pretty good feeling, too. You go from seeing his first time on a fire truck as a little boy to actually being the fire chief. It was a great feeling.”

There are other moments in King’s life that have made him proud to be a volunteer dad, such as watching his daughter, Michele, become a volunteer EMT, when she was 18 years old, and now helping his granddaughter and Mike’s daughter, Alyssa, 17, study to become an EMT herself.

These moments came about because King decided to take a chance to join his local fire company, which impacted his life and the lives of his family members for decades to come.

A Legacy of Service

King’s work as a volunteer started 46 years ago when he followed in the footsteps of his brothers Barry and Denny and a friend. Barry was at Sadsburyville. Denny was at Pomeroy Fire Company. When he was 14 years old, his friend suggested that he join the Sadsburyville Fire Company. “I was hesitant at first,” he said, “but once I got into the training part of it and got to see what everyone else was doing it was big adrenaline rush.”

King can still remember his first fire call, in fact. A mobile home caught fire. “I can still remember riding on the back of the fire truck to the call,” he said. “Taking the hose line, filling it with water and cleaning up afterwards.” In those days, fighting fires didn’t come with the technology of today. He can remember when battling blazes meant holding the fire hose toward the flames while wearing essentially rubber boots and a helmet. “Today it’s state of the art equipment.”

Over the course of his career, King moved to several stations from Sadsburyville and climbed the ranks as well to the point where he was president of four different fire companies. He joined the Modena Fire Company and then the now defunct Martins Corner Fire Company. He was also a member of the West Bradford Fire Company, before ultimately joining Glenmoore in 2013.

During that time he worked as a facility manager for a chemical company and raised two kids. He saw that his service inspired his children from a young age to want to pick up his mantle and help the community themselves as volunteer first responders.

“It feels great- to know that they have the dedication and desire to help the same way I did,” he said. “They’ve kept it going. Once they started going to the firehouse and seeing the camaraderie with friends from school and then going and making new friends in the fire station, they really enjoyed it. It does become a family.”

“My dad has been in the fire service for 48 years and I’ve been beside him for 26 of those and my sister has been volunteering/ and a paid EMT for almost 15 years. My mother was the secretary for the Downingtown Fire Company for 28 straight years until she passed,” said Mike King. “Serving the community is in our blood and it starts because of my dad. I’m incredibly proud of him.”

“Through my dad’s example, my brother and I learned the value of hard work, dedication and service to the community,” said Michele. “He inspires me every day and I thank him for his commitment to helping others.”

There’s a Volunteer Role for You

Rick King knows the value of giving the fire service a chance. He decided to try it out, not sure if it would be a good fit for him and realized he’d made a great decision. He hopes others will follow his example. “Try it at least,” he said. “Go in. Spend the time. Take the training. It’s like joining a new family. You’ve got to go in there with your eyes wide open. It really is a good way to give back to the community. There’s a lot of hard work. And there other spots in the fire company, if you don’t enjoy working the hose or riding the fire truck. There are plenty of ways to help and help is always needed.”

Becoming a volunteer member of your local Chester County fire station helps keep lives safe, said Neil Vaughn, head of the Chester County Fire Chiefs Association’s volunteer recruitment committee. “From firefighters, EMTs, fire police, junior firefighters and administrative volunteers, there is a volunteer position that fits your talents,” he said. “No previous experience is required. The training and equipment are free. Learn new skills, have some fun and see how you can become part of a second family.”

Fill out a volunteer inquiry form at HelpFightFire.com to start the process. Volunteer today. Chester County lives depend on it.

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