MOUNT GILEAD — Village fire chief Greg Young left the fire station Sunday evening with plenty of fond memories from the past 49 years.
“The good people that I’ve been able to work with; the good chiefs that I’ve worked under,” Young said before a party commemorating his retirement.
“Been through some real disastrous stuff over the years. Also the tremendous changes that have come about in the fire service in terms of everybody’s safety. It’s just been a lot.”
Young noted numerous changes that have taken place in the nearly half-century he has served the village.
“When I started we had red fireball gloves, rubber coats and hip-linked rubber boots. Now we have very comfortable gear. as much as you can when you’re being protected by it,” he said.
“The technology, the equipment, the trucks. Everybody’s training is better. It’s come a long way,” Young said.
Training has been elevated, Young said.
“Everybody on this fire department is trained to a level two professional firefighter level except for a couple of new people. This makes the whole situation a lot safer.”
Young said the biggest challenge today is response.
“It’s because we are a bedroom community and that’s why we are staffed seven days a week.”
Young is part of a firefighting family. His father Richard “Dick” Young served as chief and his brother Bruce is currently a village firefighter.
“My father was a captain. From the time I was old enough to walk around, we were around the fire station,” he said.
He worked for several chiefs, including his dad, before becoming one in 2012. Young maintains there are certain traits a firefighter must possess.
“You have to have a good sense of morality, dedication to the community, be willing to serve. It’s not the highest paying job in the world. People give up a lot of their time,” Young said.
In retirement, Young plans to “play a little golf for the first time in 4 or 5 years, work with my brother in our business and do some traveling.”
Chad Swank, who succeeds Young, is grateful for what he’s learned from him.
“He has given me so much guidance. It’s been huge. Allowing me to write grants and do the things I’ve done. The memories are great. He’s just a phone call away, I know that,” Swank said.
Firefighter Rocki Huddleston hasn’t been around Young as much as some others have, but she has benefited from his presence.
“Chief Young has a ton of knowledge about his community. He cares about his firefighters and he’s deeply rooted in the fire service,” Huddleston said.