VETERANS—Following the retirement of Earl Ferguson, the Gorham Fayette Fire Department still has four members with more than 40 years of service. From the left is Dick Buehrer (49 years), Gary Rice (45 years), Dick Vine (43 years), Boomer Rice (41 years) and Tom Stambaugh (36 years).
Some people might see a lot of old guys on the Gorham Fayette Fire Department. Chief Tom Franks sees a lot of experience.
Earl Ferguson officially retired last month and received a plaque for 47 years of service, but he isn’t the senior member. That honor goes to Dick Buehrer with 49 years and counting.
Those two aren’t the only 40-year veterans of the department. Gary Rice comes in at 45 years, Dick Vine at 43 years and Calvin “Boomer” Rice at 41 years.
Next in line, Tom Stambaugh, trails with “only” 36 years on the squad.
Some chiefs might think the department is tipping a little heavy on the older end of the scale, but Chief Franks doesn’t mind.
“To tell you the truth, I’m glad I do have them because there’s a lot of knowledge and experience there to bring forth to the newer members. Those guys are a dying breed.”
Franks said his senior member, Buehrer, lives about a block from the fire station and he’s always the first person to arrive for a call.
“Dick shows up more than anyone, too,” Franks said. “He probably drives about 80 percent of the rescue runs.”
Ferguson had cut back some in the last two years, Franks said, but he always kept his training up and still helped out when available.
Looking back over more than 40 years with the department, Ferguson said he really enjoyed his time as a volunteer. He served in a variety of roles, from driving to helping out with LifeFlight landings, and, of course, fighting a lot of fires.
He said he leaves the department with a lot of good memories along with some unpleasant ones from responding to accidents that remain hard to shake.
Franks said he likes to keep his roster at 35 members and it’s currently full. He can only take EMT volunteers now and the department pays for schooling.
Eventually it will be time to bring on a new member or two, and when that day arrives, he’ll turn to his veterans to help teach the rookies how to get the job done.