Local volunteer honored as 2005 Firefighter of the Year

March 21, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

MAUGANSVILLE - Because volunteering seems so natural to Joe Goodrich, he was a little uncomfortable being singled out March 13 for a statewide honor.

"I'm just glad that I am able to talk with children and teach them things that could save their lives," Goodrich said as he tried to get used to being the 2005 Firefighter of the Year chosen by the Maryland State Council of the Knights of Columbus.

The plaque he received reads "in recognition of many years of assistance and protection of the citizens and community, and dedication to fire safety classes for youth."


Goodrich, who is active at the Maugansville Goodwill Volunteer Fire Co. as a lieutenant and at Children's Village of Washington County as an instructor, went to Severna Park, Md., for the ceremony with his wife, two children, his parents and other family members.

"My grandfather, William Goodrich, is a member of the Knights of Columbus, and he got the application," Goodrich said. With help from Maugansville Fire Chief Phil Ridenour, the application was submitted.

Goodrich, 41, started volunteering at the Washington County Civil Defense station when he was 14 years old. When he turned 16, he joined both the Volunteer Fire Co. of Halfway and the Williamsport Volunteer Fire Co.

"In 1990, I moved into Maugansville's area so I started running with Maugansville," Goodrich said. He said he maintains his friendships with the volunteers from his previous companies.

"I have been with Children's Village since the beginning," Goodrich said. He teaches at least once a month there and would like to see that increase.

He said the curriculum at Children's Village provides one day of education each for fire and police lessons, directed at second-graders in Washington County and beyond. He would like to see the fire portion increased to two days because he feels there is so much that children need to know.

In addition to running with Maugansville on fire calls, Goodrich is also seeing that children in that community are being taught fire prevention.

"I do the safety camp at Maugansville," he said.

A committee was formed in 2004 to make the idea a reality. Two camps were held last year; each was three nights from 6 to 8 p.m. for children in grades 2 to 6.

Washington County Sheriff's deputies joined in with a section on bicycle safety, Goodrich said.

"Last year, we also burned a car and narrated so the kids would understand how fire operates," he said.

When Goodrich asked for help with the camp last year, 20 or more people showed up, he said. Many of those were young people who are going to school while training to become firefighters and emergency medical technicians.

"They deserve recognition, too," he said.

Right now, the Maugansville volunteers are absorbing the cost of safety camp, which includes T-shirts for all who participate. Goodrich said he has written a grant proposal for $32,000 to $35,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for funds for interactive equipment and computer models.

"Children are at a disadvantage ... they only know what adults teach them," he said.

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