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Youth named rookie, member of the year

April 13, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - Waiting around the Williamsport Fire Hall to be interviewed isn't Donnie Bingaman's cup of tea.

So when the tones sounded and he was called upon to respond to a wreck on Interstate 70 one recent afternoon, Bingaman was more in his element.

On the scene of that accident, 16-year-old Bingaman - Williamsport's rookie and member of the year - showed why he received that honor at the 2005 banquet.

"Donnie assisted with the extrication of one of the occupants of a van that overturned," said Williamsport Fire Chief Will Ball, who also was on that call. "He can do everything but drive a vehicle."

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A junior at Williamsport High School, Bingaman literally grew up at the fire hall, Ball said.

His stepfather, Rodney Guessford, a member of the company for 17 years, said Donnie was about 3 years old when he started going to the fire hall with him.

"I have always wanted to be a professional firefighter," Bingaman said.

Currently, he is a member of a class of nine students from Williamsport and Boonsboro high schools, Ball said.

The vocational program puts them in local firehouses so they can get a head start on a professional firefighting career.

Every school day, Bingaman and the others attend classes or practical activities from 1 to 4 p.m. Classes are being held currently at Funkstown Volunteer Fire Co. and the Hagerstown Training Academy.

"This is great for volunteer companies," Ball said. Young people who are trained and ready to serve are the future of all volunteer fire companies.

"Currently Donnie is in field training," he said.

Bingaman said that next year, Emergency Medical Technician training begins.

There are 132 hours of EMT and rescue classes in that portion of the program. He's already involved in Firefighter I, which is 102 hours of training, and Firefighter II, another 60 hours.

"Ever since I have known Donnie, he's wanted to be a Williamsport firefighter," Ball said. "He was one of our original junior firefighters here."

Recalling his own youth, Ball said he started volunteering when he was about the same age as Bingaman. Ball has been chief for seven of his 16 years with the Williamsport Fire Co.

"Donnie has good morals and values and he is very respectful - it's been an honor to watch him grow up," Ball said, noting that he wishes he had about 10 more like him.

Guessford, too, is proud of his stepson.

In sales for a living, Guessford drove the engine the day Bingaman went out on the wreck on I-70.

In addition to the honors bestowed on Bingaman at the 2005 banquet, Brad Noble was named adult firefighter of the year. Jeremy LaFollette received the training award and Kevin Lewis was honor deed firefighter of the year.

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