W.Va. fire chief succumbs to cancer

January 06, 1997


Staff Writer

INWOOD - South Berkeley Volunteer Fire Co. Chief Ed Keesecker died Sunday afternoon at his home of cancer. He was 42.

"He was a wonderful husband. He was dedicated to the fire service. He believed strongly in volunteerism," said his widow, Debbie Keesecker. "He felt that his goal was to take as much training as he could possibly take and to be as educated about the fire service as he possibly could be.

"He was always worried about the people in the community and that they had the best fire protection available," she said. "I just hope that people will remember Eddie as a man who loved his community very much, his family and his church."


The two of them were high school sweethearts, she said. He was her first date and they were together 24 years and married for 22 years. She remembers the first time they went out - Dec. 22, 1972.

"I miss him incredibly," she said. "He's gone to be with the Lord. I take comfort in that."

Like her husband, she also is a paramedic.

Her husband had joined the fire company when he was 16 years old. He was the first "junior" firefighter at South Berkeley Volunteer Fire Co.

She said one of the older firefighters at the time told him then that he would one day be chief.

"He always thought of the guys at the fire hall as his kids because he didn't have any children," said Deputy Fire Chief Bruce Chrisman.

"He was close to everybody," Chrisman said. "He was a shoulder you could lean on if you had a problem whether with the fire department or outside of the department."

Keesecker always tried to make sure the firefighters had the best equipment and training possible, he said.

"He liked organizing. He liked getting things going. He was very proud of the fire department," Chrisman said.

The fire department has 60 members with stations in Inwood and Pikeside and nine firefighting vehicles, Chrisman said.

Keesecker's largest blaze was the September 1993 fire at a 10-acre pile of old tires near Inwood.

More than 150 firefighters from four states battled the blaze. Some officials expected it to take weeks, possibly months to put out, but 36 hours after it started the blaze was doused.

Keesecker had organized a relay of 65 tanker trucks to haul in water to douse the blaze involving about 3 million tires.

Cranes and other heavy machinery also were used to break up burning piles.

The quick work drew praise to the South Berkeley Volunteer Fire Co. and Keesecker, who organized the effort.

"Gen. (Norman) Schwarzkopf wouldn't have been better organized," said then president of the Berkeley County Commissioners William N. "Shug" Kissner at the time.

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