Honored to Ride

FCRide4Yesterday, a memorial motorcycle ride was held in honor of my home jurisdiction’s (county) former Fire Chief. He retired from my home jurisdiction and became the Fire Chief in another location, but died in April of this year as a result of long-term effects of Parkinson’s Disease.

I was honored to pull on my firefighter boots…

… and join my firefighter friends to ride all over our county on a police-escorted, non-stop ride.

I forgot how many riders who do not regularly ride with groups don’t know how. Some did things that were unsafe. Some rode like a “hot dog”. Others did not pay attention to the rider in front of him. We were lucky that some of these guys didn’t crash or fall. This is why I like to ride with my club who are all safe, skilled riders and experienced with riding in groups.

Back to the topic — the man we were honoring.

It was my pleasure to have worked closely with my county’s former Fire Chief on a national task force that was selected for service at our national fire academy. I collaborated with him and the other members of this group for five years (1993-1998). We worked hard to develop strategies to reduce fire fatalities among seniors.

That is where I developed the concept of my “senior safety Saturday” project that I organize twice each year right in my own community… for some 16 years now. Implementing and carrying out that twice-yearly project earned me the honor of being selected as an honorary Life Member of my local fire department, even though I was never employed by them or trained as a volunteer firefighter. (I was trained as a medic, but that was a long, long time ago.)

Doing that project has been a lot of work, but only was able to be done because our former Chief cleared the way for a “citizen” to collaborate with the Fire Department and to organize a voluntary safety program. Who woulda thunk that Joe Shmoe Citizen (me) might actually know something about fire safety? My Chief did.

I am very sad that he passed away. I was honored to ride for him yesterday and with my firefighter pals who each have their own memories or reasons for riding in the Chief’s honor.

Bless you, Chief. Miss you!

Life is short: honor mentors.