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Volunteer firefighter keeps blazes from Blooming

Milton 'Butch' Bloom has fought fires for 43 years

Milton 'Butch' Bloom has fought fires for 43 years

November 27, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

LEITERSBURG - In Washington County, where multigenerational fire service is not unusual, Milton "Butch" Bloom said he was the first in his family to get involved with a fire company.

But he hasn't been the last.

"It was exciting," Bloom said as he marks 43 years of association with the Leitersburg Volunteer Fire Co. "And it was the thing to do then."

In those early years, Bloom said he could ride on a firetruck, but he couldn't drive one until he was 21. Now, there are training requirements that volunteers must meet before they are allowed to do either and rightly so, Bloom said.

Bloom, who soon will be 60, is president of the fire company. Over the years, Bloom has been a lieutenant, captain, deputy chief, assistant chief and chief.

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"I still go on runs and am in the top 10 responders every year," Bloom said, who lives just three doors from the fire hall.

Bloom's wife, Lorraine, has been volunteering for the fire company's auxiliary for almost 40 years.

In 2005, Lorraine spearheaded the Washington County fire auxiliary's efforts to help organize a home chemical safety project for fourth-graders in all Washington County public elementary schools through the Local Emergency Planning Committee.

Lorraine Bloom met her future husband in 1966 while visiting an aunt in Leitersburg. After they married, the couple had two daughters, Sandy and Sueanne. They now have five grandchildren.

A son-in-law, Kirk Mongan, is the current Leitersburg fire chief.

"I got him started," Bloom said. "The Leitersburg Fire Company is growing. Kirk keeps them motivated."

When not volunteering at Leitersburg, Mongan is employed as assistant chief of the fire department of the West Virginia Air National Guard's 167th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg, W.Va.

Bloom, who works at Lowe's Distribution Center in Hagerstown, earns community pride money for his volunteer work in the community.

"We get money two times a year," Bloom said. For the past five years, that money has gone to the fire company.

Bloom said his 43 years in the fire service have been worthwhile and satisfying.

"I've probably seen more fires than most in this fire company," he said.

Bloom only wishes more young people would get involved in fire service.

For information on joining, call 301-733-9155. Applicants must be at least 16, and the basic training requirement is 109 hours.

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