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Ron Flegel - Fire chief has decades with department

April 21, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - On any given day, Ron Flegel can be seen driving on Waynesboro streets in a red vehicle, whether his classic Corvette, a large pickup truck, or, if the situation arises, a firetruck.

Flegel is in his 40th year as a Waynesboro firefighter, and served the past four as chief.

"When I joined the volunteer fire company, it got in my blood," Flegel said.

He put repetitious industrial and office jobs behind him in December 1967, when he became a career driver with the fire department.

To this day, the job still presents new challenges.

"When I come on duty each morning, I don't know what the day has in store for me," Flegel said. "It, by no means, is a boring job."

Flegel balances his time between educating about safety and combating the situations that do occur.

"Every year, we're getting more requests for us to be proactive ... not just in the home, but in industry," Flegel said.

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And that's perfectly fine with him.

"I'd much rather spend my time preventing fires and accidents than deal with them," he said.

He hosts tours of Waynesboro's two fire stations and conducts fire drills in schools, child-care facilities and other businesses such as nursing homes.

"We provide fire extinguisher training for employees," Flegel said.

He organizes and promotes the 525-member department's involvement in national Fire Prevention Week each October. The events are those of the two fire companies - Mechanics Hose Steam Fire Engine and Always There Hook and Ladder - that form the volunteer department.

Flegel, who married his wife Bev 25 years ago, acts as the department's liaison to the Waynesboro Borough Council, which pays drivers' salaries and owns the South Potomac Street fire station.

"Ron Flegel is a marvelous conciliator," Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger said. "He does a good job and makes it look easy, and it's not easy."

Last year, Flegel's focus was on fundraising as the volunteers purchased a tower truck and a 1,500-gallon-per-minute pumper for a total cost of approximately $865,000. He then hosted an open house in the fall to introduce the community to the newest of the department's seven firetrucks.

Interspersed with all of the administrative tasks, Flegel does what he was trained to do - respond to emergencies. He responded to 275 of the department's 591 calls in 2005.

Flegel often is the first person on the scene in an emergency and coordinates operations in the department's first response area, which includes the Borough of Waynesboro and parts of Quincy and Washington townships.

He'll tell you that he's never pulled anyone out of a building or had to go into one for a colleague. However, he said he is aware of the odds and knows the reality is that could change at any moment.

He's prepared to do what needs to be done by relying on training, experience and instinct.

"It's all about being in the right place at the right time," he said.




Q&A

Name - Ron Flegel

Address - Waynesboro, Pa.

Occupation - Fire chief and career driver with the Waynesboro Fire Department

Most notable achievement and proudest moment - Flegel doesn't feel he has done anything particularly outstanding. He said he feels he is just doing his job when he responds to emergencies.

Who is the person you most admire and why? -That depends on which day it is.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received? Who gave it to you? - He said he has received advice from a number of people, including those who were involved with the department before him. It's hard for him to select one piece of advice.

What is the next goal you would like to achieve? - Retire.

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