Casco Firefighter of the Year
By Dawn De Busk
CASCO – Lonney Girard did not grow up in a family in which his father was a fireman. Nor did Girard join the fire department when he was fresh out of high school or college.
It was only two years ago, that his family rallied around him in his decision to become a firefighter. His family was equally delighted as they had been supportive when Girard was named Casco Firefighter of the Year 2012.
“They are pretty proud of me. When I got the award, they were proud of me. Now my 13-year-old (daughter) wants to become a junior firefighter. My whole family is proud of what I’ve accomplished is a short time,” he said.
Girard described receiving the award at a banquet in March as “proud I was recognized for the work. It was also very humbling.”
He wanted to give a big shout-out for his wife Amie.
“Without her beside me through all this there was no way I could do it. I would be half the man without her. This firefighter of the year thing, she deserves credit.”
There are always time-management adjustments when someone takes on an extra job, or extra volunteer work. So, spousal support helped with the transition that happened two years ago, he said.
“I no fire experience prior to that,” he said.
“A couple of things led me into firefighting. I do ATV safety for (The Maine Department of) Inland Fisheries (and Wildlife.) I am a state certified ATV safety instructor. That just dovetailed into doing instruction for the ATV club, and some of those guys were on the fire department and liked it,” he explained. “Secondly, my brother, Kerry’s house in Bridgton had burnt the week before Christmas. Those two things are what drove me to become a firefighter. Also, it’s a good way to give back and help out the community if you have time.”
So, the reason behind making the decision to become a firefighter “is kind of tri-fold for me,” Girard said.
One of the most rewarding parts of volunteering for the fire department is “just serving the community. That is one of the three pieces that brought me to be a firefighter, just helping out the community anyway I can,” he said.
“I really enjoy community service. That was definitely one of the bigger pieces of it,” he said.
“I do love being part of Casco Days as part of the fire department,” he added.
Not only does Girard teach safety courses, but also he gets the okay from landowners to create connections between area trail systems. Also, lining up alternate routes, keeps trails in muddier areas from getting torn up or rutted, he said.
The Girard family shares a love for ATV riding. The two daughters, Elizabeth, 13, and Kassandra, 16, said they really enjoy riding ATV with their parents.
In mid-June, the family spent a Saturday grooming and picking up trash at a trail system in Bridgton. The following Saturday, they focused their efforts on a Casco-based ATV trail system in the Jugtown area.
Girard said he is thankful and glad he took on volunteer firefighting.
“I drive fire engines, and I am the truck driver pump operator – that is one of the most fun parts of the job,” he admitted.
“I haven’t really saved anyone’s life yet – other than helping get water to fires to put fires out,” he said.
“Getting the fire out is the most rewarding,” he said.
There is another added benefit.
“As a volunteer fireman, you get an extended family. The camaraderie is great. You have a second family at the fire department,” Girard said.