Category Archives: Firefighter Storytellers

Long Time Leader: Doc Moltrup

My Story:

PGFD Division Chief Donald "Doc" Moltrup

I first became interested in the fire service when I was three or four years old. We had a very good family friend near our home town of Beaver Falls, PA, who was the Chief of the Chippewa Township (PA) Volunteer Fire Department. We visited them often and I also looked forward to going to the fire station with him.

He also gave me all of his old issues of “Fireman” magazine, then the official magazine of the NFPA (and probably the only real fire service journal in that era). I poured through these magazines and even traced pictures of fire apparatus in advertisements in them and made up my own fictitious fire department with them.

Although my Dad was never in the fire service, he was kind of a fire buff so I went to fires with him often. I lived in State College (PA) for several of my pre-school years and a volunteer with the Alpha Fire Company in State College lived across from our house. I always saw him rushing off to fire calls and wished I could go too. Read more of this post

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Epic Stories from the Beltway

One week after I bunked and rode with Hyattsville Volunteers, the “white cloud” (as they called me because they didn’t catch any work while I was there) was lifted and HVFD caught all the work they could eat this past weekend.

Here’s a few links to their wild fires and wild times to whet your appetite. I can’t wait to hear the back stories of these adventures.

You could even say that this is the story of my life: A week late and a dozen fires short!

From the Halls of Hyattsville

Nik and Nick (practically twins) - two bunk-ins at Hyattsville Volunteers

It may be a while before I have a chance to share all of the great stories and experiences I heard this weekend during my awesome bunk-in tour-of-duty with Hyattsville Volunteers but I didn’t want to delay in showing you the photos.

While we didn’t catch any real work, I still had a blast and gained a real education on and appreciation for bunk-in programs — especially theirs.

I also had the opportunity to tour College Park Volunteer Fire Department — a class act and great fire-dorm set-up — courtesy of Capt. Matt Machala who is rightly very proud of their program.

All of these young people are pretty impressive.

So until I can find the time to get to the real story, here are some photos — to paint a thousand words.

How I met Billy D. Hayes … and stuff

This story of how I met Billy D. Hayes (and several other great people) was told when Billy called in during the Firefighter Storytellers Internet Radio Show with special guest Janet Wilmoth on February 9, 2011. It was originally printed  in “The Volunteer Firefighter” magazine from www.fasny.com –  August- 2008

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This article is one in a series of toolkits focusing on recruitment, retention, fire service marketing and leadership.

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My best friend: Chief Dennis Allen

Last month I said we’d take the summer off from talking about clearinghouses and trench work to focus on some other aspects of the fire service as they relate to recruitment and retention.

So, I decided we’d talk about an often mentioned but rarely explored principle of the fire service: Brotherhood. For the purposes of this article, the term “brotherhood” is gender-generic, so I hope the feminist revolution doesn’t show up at my doorstep any time soon.

Already you might be asking yourself what brotherhood has to do with recruitment and retention. But think about it. What is one of the greatest if not somewhat intangible assets we have to offer someone thinking about joining our ranks? That’s right; it’s the real brotherhood of the fire service. Read more of this post

Not Just a Daddy’s Girl

Janet Wilmoth became a Run-to-the-Curb kid before she could even walk.

She was six months old when her Dad carried her to watch a big warehouse fire in Chicago (she has old home movies to prove it). Born into a fire fighting and fire buffing family, her father, his sister and brother used to chase fire trucks while living in Chicago.

After the Lisle IL Volunteer Fire Department responded with their ambulance for her mother, her Dad thanked the chief. The chief said they needed help and that he should join since we lived so close to the fire department. Her father heeded the chief’s calling.

That was an early start to what would be Janet’s unusual path to the fire service.

I credit Janet with inspiring me to create Run-to-the-Curb and Firefighter Storytellers in Planting a Seed.

Check back here as we fill in the blanks on Janet’s story after the show. Read more of this post

Duracell Storing Powerful Firefighter Stories

By now, you’ve certainly heard – and possibly even seen – the buzz around the NVFC partnership with Duracell and the launch of the “Power Those Who Protect Us” battery donation program to bring attention to the needs of the volunteer fire service in local communities across America.

As the recently launched website states: “Volunteer firefighters devote their time to protect you and your community. Duracell’s “Power Those Who Protect Us” donation program lets you give back to these selfless heroes. ” Read more of this post

Storytellers: Janet Wilmoth

Fire Chief Magazine "Editor-in-Chief" Janet Wilmoth

Janet Wilmoth isn’t just a Run-to-the-Curb Kid, she’s the one who I credit with planting a seed in my mind as to the importance of storytelling in the fire service.

This Wednesday night — February 9th, she gets to tell her side of the story.

Click here for the details of: Not Just a Daddy’s Girl! and listen in to Firefighter Storytellers on the FirefighterNetcast Radio Network.

Stop back on Wednesday night at 9pm and you can listen to the show here.

Not Your Typical “Truckie”

Glenn Usdin was a Run-to-the-Curb kid, growing up in the New York fire service and rising to the rank of fire chief in Lancaster PA. Like many in the fire service, his career path has taken him in several directions including a tenure as associate publisher of Fire Engineering Magazine, president of American-LaFrance Used Fire Apparatus, now the owner of a large used fire apparatus company – Command Fire Apparatus; an accomplished professional photographer and his most recent venture with FireEMS Blogs, founding the FireTruckBlog.com.

Listen in as Chief Usdin shares his story of how he’s made a career out of his fascination with fire trucks with host Tiger Schmittendorf on the Firefighter Storytellers Internet radio show live at 9pm EST on Wednesday-January 12, 2011. Read more of this post

Fire Nerd: Pat Coghlan

Pat Coghlan reflects on the propane explosion that occurred on December 27, 1983 in downtown Buffalo - claiming the lives of five Buffalo Firefighters

Meet retired Lt. Patrick Coghlan from the Buffalo Fire Department, a 34-year veteran of the fire service. Like many firefighters, Patty, as his friends refer to him, is a real character with a bit of a crusty exterior — but when you peel that away — you find a big guy with an even bigger heart and a very special fondness for telling stories and preserving the rich history of the fire service.

A self-proclaimed “nerd” for the fire service (a real “two-hander” as he says), Pat is the Vice President of the Buffalo Fire Historical Society and a hoarder of fire memorabilia. A buff’s buff, Pat has passed down his love for the fire service to his daughter Margaret, the museum’s secretary.

Pat Coghlan is the son of a Buffalo firefighter and a nurse. Like me, he kept a journal of the calls he responded to – except his log starts even before he was a firefighter, chronicling fires and calls that he buffed and took photos at. He buffed 210 runs in 1964 alone.

Appointed to the Buffalo Fire Department in October 1965, his class was the last class appointed for the creation of a new company: Ladder 16. Fresh out of the academy, Pat was first assigned at Ladder 3 on Spring Street where he served as a tiller man. He served as the driver for Chief Harvey Supple from 1969 to 1976. From there he went to Engine 21 and was appointed lieutenant in 1978. Read more of this post

Citizen-Soldier-Firefighter: Dan Frontera

Here’s the link to Dan’s show that aired November 10, 2010 titled: “The Story of a True Serviceman

Soldier Dan Frontera in Iraq

Dan Frontera grew up in the suburbs of Buffalo, NY in a family where service was a way of life.  His father was a Veteran along with most of his uncles. His Dad and one uncle were both volunteer firemen.

 

 So, it’s no surprise that Dan would follow his family’s example of service and grow up to be both a soldier and a firefighter.  Soon after seeing the National Guard in action supporting his community during a blizzard in Buffalo and while still a senior in high school, Dan enlisted in the Army National Guard as a Medic. 

Read more of this post