MCDONALD, Ohio (WYTV) – They spend countless hours away from their families and make sacrifices to keep their community safe.
Members of the McDonald Volunteer Fire Department — just 16 of them, including those in the department’s Junior Fire Program — handle not only fighting fires in the small village of McDonald, but also taking emergency calls from the 3,319 residents who live there and teaching fire prevention to children in the area.
Because of their dedication, the members of the fire department have been recognized as WYTV’s Hometown Heroes of the week. And recently, the department received a much larger award — the 2015 Volunteer Fire Department of the Year Award from the State of Ohio.
Fire Chief Nick Kish said the award was a surprise to his co-workers, whom he said are not involved for the recognition or the accolades.
“We just do it because it’s our job. But when something like this occurred, a lot of our volunteers… I think a lot of us are in awe,” he said. “It’s kind of a ‘wow-like’ thing.
The chief calls it a job, even though it is strictly volunteer-based, because of how time consuming the work can be.
“It’s like having another full-time job for a lot of my people, and sometimes it goes higher than that,” he said. “During busy periods with calls and everything, it can be 50 or 60 hours a week.”
McDonald Mayor Glenn Holmes said the fire department deserves the recognition. He said the members live in the community and give back to the community.
“I don’t think people realize the dedication it takes and the time it takes away from their families to answer every call,” he said. “A lot of years, we have 350, 360 calls, and they answer them effectively, efficiently.”
The volunteers said it is all just part of the job.
“It’s just a way of life. It might seem over and above to some people, but for us, it’s what we do every day,” said Captain Jim Petruzzi.
Firefighter and EMT John Williamson added, “You’re coming into someone’s worst day of their lives. To help them and to bring them back home and have them thank you is one of the best feelings in the world.”