Todd E. Wilson
Q: How many years have you been with the department?
A: 30 years.
Q: What are some of your responsibilities?
A: I have been the secretary of the Kenbridge Volunteer Fire Department for close to 26 years. I take minutes, interact with the state reporting system and assist however I can around the station. I’m also the head of the Fellowship Committee, and as such oversee most of the events and fundraisers held by the department.
Q: What does a typical day look like?
A: Keep in mind that this is a volunteer job. I’m employed by VDOT and come in on my off time to help. There is no average day — we may have no calls for days at a time, then we may also receive constant ones throughout the entire shift.
Q: How long have you wanted to be a firefighter? Why?
A: When I was 16 my best friend’s father got me involved with the local fire department. This, coupled with my time in the Boy Scouts, inspired me to help those in need, help my community and my newfound second family.
Q: What are some little-known aspects of the job people wouldn’t guess you do?
A: People tend to think that just because you are a volunteer, it means you are not as qualified. This could not be further from the truth as we dedicate hundreds of hours yearly just to training.
Q: What training was required for you to reach your position?
A: I received an immense amount of training, starting off with basic training and FireFighter 1. I have taken classes on EVOC, pump operation, wildland fires, hazmat protocol and more. This includes Firefighter 2, but ultimately every conceivable part of being a firefighter is taught in your courses. It is up to you how much you want to learn through them, or seminars. Regardless, you constantly have to train to stay ready, and a lot of that is done in-house.
Q: What are some of the challenging/rewarding aspects of the field?
A: Some of the challenging aspects are dealing with different people/ personalities in an emergency. We have taken courses on how to handle dangerous physical scenarios, and stay fit for them — but there is no course to routinely prepare you for people. Stressful situations can force people to act in a variety of ways, but its important to stay focused, even when you see some bad things. As for the rewarding aspects, it is all about helping others from the kindness in your heart. This isn’t paid work, none of us do this for any other reason than to help others.
Q: What would people be surprised to know about you?
A: I enjoy hunting and fishing, as well as refurnishing old furniture. I have two kids, as well as a grandson, and have worked for VDOT for 20 years.
Q: Is there any information or story you’d like to add about your service to the department that I haven’t asked about, or you’d like people to know?
A: I’d like to stress that none of us do this for money, but purely to help our community and those in need. We hope people recognize that, and also that we are all members of this community. We do need more help though. We are approachable and looking for more volunteers.
Interview conducted by George Waters.