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Trooper supports his son's dream

June 19, 2005|by DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

daniels@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - Cross-trained as a firefighter when he was with the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office in West Virginia, Maryland State Police Trooper 1st Class Robert Fraley said he always planned to use his training to serve as a volunteer firefighter.

It was a plan deferred, however, until his son got a head start by enrolling in Williamsport Volunteer Fire Co.'s junior firefighter program in January 2002.

"This way, I can help him out and he can help me out," Fraley said. "I'll support him at anything that he wants to do as long as he puts his heart into it."

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Leading up to their decisions, Fraley took his son, Chris, to the county's 911 emergency operations center for a tour. While there, they met Williamsport Fire Chief William Ball, who told the younger Fraley about Williamsport's junior firefighter program. Chris Fraley jumped at the opportunity.

Robert Fraley joined about two months after his son did, both to share the experience with Chris and to watch out for him.

"I joined just to be with him and to try to help him along," Robert Fraley said.

Not yet old enough to fight fires, Chris Fraley, now 15, said he is enjoying his experience with the fire service and is encouraged by Williamsport's outreach efforts within the community.

"I think it's cool," he said. "I like helping people, but, also, I really enjoy the training."

While the two always have been friends, both said their shared experiences have brought them closer together as father and son. Both now serve jointly at Williamsport and at the Fairplay Volunteer Fire Co.

While Robert Fraley had hoped his son might follow in his footsteps to become a Maryland State Police trooper, he said he is pleased Chris has decided he wants one day to be a career firefighter.

"He's chosen a very noble career, I'm behind him 110 percent," Robert Fraley said. "I couldn't ask for a better partner. You can tell his heart's in the fire service. He's my partner and my son both."

In addition to being a chaplain at Williamsport and a sergeant at Fairplay, Fraley also volunteers as an EMT with the Williamsport Ambulance Service.

"I think he has to be pretty dedicated to do all those things," Chris Fraley said.

Robert and Chris Fraley said Father's Day reminds them of the bonds they share as both fellow firefighters and as father and son.

"I think it makes it special, just what we do on a regular basis, not just on Father's Day," Chris said.

"He makes Father's Day special," Robert said. "I'm proud of him either way."

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