Thursday, August 17, 2006

One more tree, from the forest…

First, on a totally unrelated topic… it seems the “droneMatrix” (originally coined by Richard over at FoxProCatalyst) has drawn some interest. For those of you who’ve stopped in for that, scroll down! Like Richard, I’ve got more to say on that subject, but on another day.

I’ve failed to mention, in the last few posts about firefighting, my friend Greg Campbell. He’s the guy who called me to let me know what had happened at the fire in Cleveland.

Back in the day Greg was the Chief of the McConnelsville FD. He was a young buck back then, and as dedicated as anyone to the ‘art’ of firefighting. Like the Cleveland and North Bay Departments, he’d managed to put together a tight knit core group of hard core folks and pushed hard for better, well, better everything.

Greg was nothing if not resourceful though. I remember when his department really needed another tanker to haul water to our rural fire scenes (and the vast majority were rural, no fire hydrants, all the water is trucked in). He managed to get his (or the department’s) hands on an old tank truck, a retired fuel oil truck I think it was. I have fond memories of Greg, Larry Flint and I (along with some other MCFD folks) cutting out the internal baffles, opening up the ‘dump valves’ and turning that old truck into a nice, useful, piece of equipment.

I remember wiring up red lights, behind the grille in his Dodge (a retired Police Cruiser) in the driveway at my house, in the snow. Lest you think it was all ‘work’ I also remember drinking strawberry daiquiris on the deck at his house on a summer afternoon after either training all morning in the heat, or returning from a fire.

Greg made a big difference, one that I’m sure is still being felt today for the MCFD, and then went on to help engineer a real turn around in the Vienna FD as well.

He’s ‘out of the game’ now, like I am. He got married, has a family, home and all the responsibilities… but when we talk, I can still hear the love for it in his voice. He’s still got the FD in his blood though… just like I do.

I was thinking, just yesterday, that I don’t know where I ever found all the time for the department, and managed to earn a living as well. I know that early on I was teaching, and only had classes on either Monday/Wednesday/Friday or Tuesday/Thursday depending on the semester. That certainly made ‘being around’ a bit easier, but on the off days I also had free lance work for my customers as well.

I have distinct memories of 2:00am fires, getting off scene in just barely enough time to shower, change and get to the school before my first class, teaching all day, getting home and getting another alarm within an hour….

I wasn’t alone. We all had ‘real jobs’, and then we had the department.

I really do wish I could remember all the calls, all the drills and re-tell the stories to you all. I might just have to take a tape recorder if we ever have that ‘reunion’ we’ve been talking about. I’d have something to write about for at least a year!!

So Greg, just in case you somehow didn’t know, and you read this, please count yourself among those I feel blessed, to have had the opportunity to know, and work with. That you thought of me, and knew, even after all these years that I’d want to know… means more than I have words to express.

I’m looking forward to us all getting together, and, as soon as I can, I’ll be headed your way!

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greg campbell said...

Bill: Thanks and yes I have the love for it still. I always say that if my son, now 18 was a wee bit older back then I may have stayed active.Would of loved to train and team with him on a working fire.Thanks again. greg

Bill said...

Greg - You're welcome bro... you deserved it! I understand how you feel... it would have been a real "extra" bonding deal I'm sure, one that really, very few parents would ever have a chance for.

Talk to you soon!!