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Fighting fires is family affair

June 19, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

HALFWAY - Firefighting constantly interrupted Raymond T. Kimble Sr.'s life.

When he and his family went places together, Raymond Sr. would be called to fires.

It was a time when firefighters kept gear with them and went directly to the scene instead of stopping at the fire station first, so the whole family went on calls, said one of Raymond's sons, Jim Kimble.

As The Volunteer Fire Co. of Halfway, Md., worked, the family watched from the car, said another son, Jeff Kimble.

Other times, Raymond Sr. raced off to the scene on his own. When he came home, he recapped the call for his three sons - Jim, Jeff and Raymond Jr.

Thrilled by firefighting, the boys made it part of their own lives, too.

All three became junior firefighters when they reached the minimum age of 16. First Raymond Jr., then Jim, then Jeff.

Jeff's son, Brian, and Jim's son, Jim Jr., who is known as Jimmy, said their fathers inspired the same awe in them.

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The sons each joined a firefighter cadet program when they were 15, then became junior firefighters at age 16.

Now, both sets of fathers and sons work together and fight fires together in Halfway. Raymond Jr. has moved to Pennsylvania.

Jim, 46, and Jeff, 44, are partners in two related businesses - Jim Kimble's Truck and Auto Repair is one, Emergency Vehicle Specialist is the other. They fix firetrucks, cars and other vehicles.

Jimmy, 26, and Brian, 21, work for their fathers - and think like them.

As a child, "the first thing I wanted to do Saturday morning was have my dad take me to the station," Jimmy said. That was the day the department cleaned its trucks.

"I just wanted to be around it," Jimmy said.

Brian remembers a different excitement: Whenever the fire department practiced putting out a fire at an old house that was donated for the occasion.

"I really wanted to be there," Brian said. "It's pretty neat."

None of the fathers or sons could remember deciding to become a firefighter; it was automatic for them.

Similarly, each son in the younger generation can't pinpoint firefighting's magnetism for him, although each thinks it's familial.

"Dad being my hero, I wanted to be like him," Jimmy said.

"I kind of like the fact that it's something me and my dad can do together," Brian said.

Jim Kimble Sr. said his father - who joined the Halfway department in the early 1950s and died 15 years ago - ushered him into firefighting, but the joy of community service kept him there.

No matter what kind of day you're having - good, bad, mediocre - the rush of helping someone becomes most important, he said.

"It's so overwhelming ..." he said. "It gives you such a warm, wonderful feeling."

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