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Firefighting-In the Family's Blood

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  • Firefighting-In the Family's Blood

    How about a nice hand salute to this fine family?

    Fighting fires is in family's blood

    By DONNA BAXTER
    Springfield News-Leader
    ROGERSVILLE, Mo. (AP) - Earlene Stirts was not surprised eight
    years ago when her son, Zach, then 13, announced his decision to
    become a firefighter.
    It's in his blood.
    There's his father, Rich Stirts, 42, chief at Logan-Rogersville
    Fire Protection District.
    And his grandfather, Bud Stirts, 61, fire chief at Pilot Knob in
    Iron County.
    And his great-grandfather, Guy Stirts, 84, who still works
    12-hour shifts as dispatcher for the Roscoe, Ill., department.
    "It's pretty much what they do," said Earlene Stirts, adding
    that Zach, now 21, was "more or less raised" in the firehouse. If
    they went on a call, he went along.
    Zach said he was motivated as a boy by watching and listening to
    the older firefighters at the Blackman Road station that used to
    serve as headquarters. The family spent many evenings there after
    Rich got off work.
    And he said he's always interested in the stories his
    grandfather and great-grandfather tell, "how it was and the
    equipment they used."
    Bud Stirts became the first firefighter in the family 45 years
    ago after seeing firefighters try to save an electrocuted teenager.
    "I saw them working on him, and it kind of moved me," he said.
    Since then he has seen many other sights that would sicken the
    average individual.
    "When people ask me, 'How can you do that?"' Bud said, "I
    always say 'You do it and then let it go; don't ponder on it."'
    Third-generation firefighter Rich Stirts remembers that there
    was not much to do in a small town while he was growing up, so he
    hung out around the firehouse. He had gone with his dad on calls
    since he was about 7.
    "In the winter we shoveled snow and in summer we polished the
    trucks," said Rich.
    He vividly remembers his first call after he joined the cadets
    at age 10.
    "It was a fatality wreck, and they wouldn't let us near it,"
    he said.
    He was named Fireman of the Year during his freshman year in
    high school, and at age 15 became secretary-treasurer for the fire
    department.
    Being given so much responsibility at such a young age made him
    what he is today, he said. By the time he moved to this area in
    1986 to work for the Missouri Department of Conservation, he
    already had 13 years of service in Pilot Knob.
    Logan-Rogersville Fire Protection District was organized in
    1987, and Rich Stirts was named chief in 1992.
    "The entire time I've been at the department I've held to this:
    We can't correct other people's mistakes but we can open ourselves
    up to the people," he said. "We can help others from making the
    same mistakes."
    Guy Stirts, the first-generation fireman in the Stirts family,
    although not the first to work as a firefighter, said he helped out
    around the firehouse for about five years before going full time 17
    years ago.
    "I don't run on trucks anymore," he said. "Somebody has to
    stay at the firehouse, and if I stay that relieves a younger man to
    go fight the fire."
    Regarding the element of danger, he said, "Every fireman has
    faced grave situations but it's his job and he faces it every
    day."
    With volunteer departments in years past, he said, there was a
    fire now and then.
    "But now the calls are so continuous that we need full-time
    people at firehouses to be effective."
    The increase in calls can partly be attributed to the fact that
    they don't just fight fires anymore, explained Earlene,
    Rogersville's deputy city clerk.
    "They respond to medical emergencies, highway accidents,
    rescue, (hazardous materials), do education, service and basically
    just about anything that nobody else wants to do."
    Zach Stirts, an Ozarks Technical Community College graduate in
    computer networking, works for UPS Freight full time and at the
    station part time. His goal is to apply for an information
    technician position with LRFPD if one opens up.
    "I'd like to network all six fire stations - have all computers
    interlinked," he said.
    "I'm excited about No. 584," a fire truck named in memory of
    Missouri Highway Patrol Cpl. Jay Sampietro, also a LRFPD volunteer
    firefighter, Zach said. "It has a lot of technology and all the
    latest advanced firefighting equipment and apparatus, including a
    light tower on top that can be raised for night work."
    Guy Stirts has another grandson, Rich's brother Steve Stirts,
    33, who serves with Bud in Pilot Knob.
    "I'm very proud of my family," the firefighting patriarch
    said. "Public service is giving back to the community. It's an
    honor."

    (Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

  • #2
    Awesome story, thanks Ed!
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
    IACOJ CRUSTY CONVENTION CHAIR
    Honorary Flatlander

    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

    Comment


    • #3
      Yep!.........

      A big round of applause for them is certainly in order. There are probably a lot more out there, since the more Rural VFDs have a lot of family involvement. I'm sure that "Big" departments do also, I've heard of several generations in places like FDNY and DCFD. Here in the 'burbs, Our VFD was founded in 1928. Among the Charter Members were my Grandfather and one uncle. Since then our family has had Seventeen Members serve at one time or another. Currently my two oldest Grandsons are the first of the Fifth Generation in the same VFD. Two years ago, my wife became the first woman to serve as President of the Department, I've been a Chief Officer since 1988, and a member since 1958. Damn, time flies when you're having fun........
      Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
      In memory of
      Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
      Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

      IACOJ Budget Analyst

      I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.

      www.gdvfd18.com

      Comment


      • #4
        Really and truly KKUUULLLL Thanks Ed.
        If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

        "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

        "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

        Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

        impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

        IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.

        Comment

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