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Fire service is in Ridenour's blood

February 01, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

MAUGANSVILLE -- Phil Ridenour said there is a picture of his grandfather, William Brewer, standing next to a 1928 Model A truck -- a vehicle he and other early volunteers turned into a first firetruck for the Maugansville Goodwill Volunteer Fire Co.

That vehicle is still in the possession of the fire company that now has a stable of modern equipment, dedicated and highly trained volunteers, and five paid drivers who responded to 755 calls last year.

Chief since 1989, Ridenour stepped down from that top slot in January. That's not to say he still won't be actively involved with the fire company he joined in 1976.

Joining the fire service could be chalked up to fate in Ridenour's case. His parents, Donald and Joyce Ridenour, were both involved from the time he was a young boy.

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"There used to be banquets upstairs and I would come to help with those when I was young," Ridenour said.

But more importantly, he was along for the ride when fire company auxiliary members brought food to firefighters who were on emergency calls.

"I also watched my brother, Frank, when he responded to calls," Ridenour said.

Now 48, Ridenour had to wait until he was 16 before he could join the company. Now there is a cadet program through which younger volunteers can get an early start on training so they can join more readily.

"If you are going to get into it, do it right," Ridenour advised. "Check it out first and get an idea of the time required for training."

The number of training hours keeps rising and there are yearly refresher courses all must take. Also part of the service are fund drives, working at bingo events and other fundraisers.

Before Ridenour took on the duties of chief, Dave Baer served in that capacity. The new chief is Bill Garrett, who has been an officer for a long time.

Ridenour is married, has two stepchildren and four grandchildren. He and his wife, Jeannie, live close to the fire hall.

"There were lots of missed dinners and family events," Ridenour said of his 20 years as Maugansville's fire chief. He estimates there were 12,000 calls during those 20 years.

The family also lives close to Hagerstown Regional Airport, where Ridenour has been fire chief for the past 12 years. He also was employed by Washington County in the 911 Center for many years.

Raised in Maugansville, Ridenour graduated from North Hagerstown High School and is now working on a series of business-management courses through Washington County.

In addition to running fire calls, Ridenour is an EMT who is qualified to run on medical calls with the Community Rescue Service ambulance, which has been housed at the fire hall for about 30 years.

"I got into it 100 percent and I knew it was time to get out," Ridenour said, speaking of his duties as chief of the Maugansville Goodwill Volunteer Fire Co.

For more information about what it takes to join the fire company, call 301-739-8515.

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