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Former Hagerstown firefighter comes full circle with IAFF job

July 09, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN -- In a way, veteran Hagerstown firefighter Richard T. "Dick" Hopkins' work experience has come full circle in his new job with the International Association of Fire Fighters.

Hopkins joined that union in 1974 when he became a relief driver and later an apparatus operator at Western Enterprise Fire Co.

"Then, I became a battalion chief in 1980 and I was out of the union," he said, having joined management with that promotion.

Hopkins, 56, was serving in that supervisory position when he learned that the IAFF had an opening at the national headquarters in Washington, D.C., just two blocks from the White House.

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"It was a very good offer," Hopkins said, prompting him to retire from the Hagerstown Fire Department. As of April 28, he is the hazardous materials/weapons of mass destruction training coordinator for the IAFF.

In that capacity, Hopkins sets up training for IAFF union members throughout the United States and Canada.

No stranger to teaching, Hopkins has long combined his fire department duties with being a part-time instructor at the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute in Emmitsburg, Md.

"The good thing about teaching was maintaining my skills and learning more about hazardous materials," Hopkins said.

Hopkins also found the time to complete an associate's degree at Hagerstown Junior College. He took additional college courses before earning his bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland University College in 1986.

In 1987, he completed an executive officers training program at Emmitsburg, further honing and enhancing his skills.

Each morning, Hopkins catches a commuter bus near the Maryland State Police barrack at 5 a.m. and then takes the Metro from Shady Grove to the Farragut North station. After a six-block walk, he is at his office.

He gets back to Hagerstown about 5:30 or 6 p.m. each day.

Hopkins and his wife, JoAnn, have three children - Michelle, 31, a physical therapist in Washington state; Adam, 24, a relief driver for the Hagerstown Fire Department; and Andrew, 23, an EMT in Loudoun County, Va.

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