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Halfway volunteer has firefighting in his blood

September 09, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

Editor's note: Certain types of jobs seem to run in some families. In stories over the next few days, we will feature families in which members share the same or similar professions that in some way serve the public.

HALFWAY -- Sgt. Wesley Loveless is only 18 years old, yet when the Volunteer Fire Co. of Halfway is called to a scene, he sometimes is the officer in charge. As a sixth-generation firefighter, Loveless has plenty of experience.

"To me, firefighting is an amazing thing," Loveless said.

To be paid as a firefighter would be a dream, he said. To that end, Loveless last week began firefighting training in Montgomery County, Md.

"I wanted to do it forever," he said. "It's a family thing."

His father, John Shipley, formerly was a captain at Halfway.

His mother, Michele Boward, runs with Halfway as an EMT-B. Before that, she was a member of the auxiliary, and as a child she would go on calls with her father and uncle, and sit and watch them at the scene.

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"It makes you feel good when you do something for somebody," she said.

Since joining the company as an EMT, Boward has helped deliver a baby and watched her son sign up on his 15th birthday -- the first day he legally was allowed to join.

"I was happy. I couldn't wait until he could join," Boward said.

He ran his first call, to an outside fire, on his 16th birthday -- the first day he was allowed to run as a firefighter.

Boward said she worries about her son sometimes, and she listens to the calls he goes on.

"If I think it's something bad, I go," she said.

Now, three generations of the Boward family run on calls together.

Michele Boward's father, Mike Boward Sr., has been a firefighter for 50 years, starting in 1958 with the Junior Fire Co., now Engine 3, in Hagerstown. He said he joined because everyone else in his family, including his grandfathers on both sides, were firefighters.

Once the assistant chief at Halfway, he now serves as a member of the fire police.

"This is what keeps me going," he said.

Mike Boward remembers the early years, when firefighters would write the address of their calls on a chalkboard in front of the station.

And he remembers Michele going out with the company as a little girl, whenever he or her uncle, Carl Dorsey, went on calls.

Mike's sister is a secretary for Engine 3 in Hagerstown and goes on calls with the rehab unit.

Michele's cousin, Wayne Boward, also spent time around the firehouse when he was young. He's now been with Halfway for 24 years, and works as a driver, operator and firefighter. He served as a lieutenant and a captain for a while, but being an officer was too much when he had children. Now, Cody Boward, 8, hangs out with his dad at the station.

Wayne Boward would love it if his son joined the company.

"I hope he does it and I drive while he's in the back," he said. "It's in the blood."

His wife, Staci Boward, said she would worry if Cody joined.

"With Wayne, it was hard at first but we've been together 19 years, so you get used to it," she said. Their other son, Ryan Boward, 13, used to hang around the firehouse but now is more interested in sports, she said.

"You have to have it in you," Staci Boward said.

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