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Guessford named Williamsport 2009 firefighter of the year

April 13, 2010|By JULIE E. GREENE
  • Rodney Guessford was named 2009 Firefighter of the Year for Williamsport Volunteer Fire & EMS Co. He joined the fire company when he was 16 years old.
By Kelly Hahn Johnson/Staff Photographer,

WILLIAMSPORT -- Williamsport Volunteer Fire & EMS Co.'s "go-to guy" got the hardware at this year's company banquet.

Rodney Guessford, 39, who lives northeast of town, was named 2009 Firefighter of the Year and received a trophy.

Guessford is a "go-to guy" who responds to calls, drives the trucks and helps with fundraisers, Fire Capt. Mark Kopp said.

Guessford grew up in Greencastle, Pa., and Williamsport, and, with a passion to become a firefighter, joined the fire company when he was 16 years old.

"I don't remember why I really started," Guessford said. "I know why I do it today. I do it today because it's something I love doing. I like helping people."

He worked his way through the ranks, serving as lieutenant captain and deputy chief. He's not currently holding an officer position with the company.

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"To be honest with you, I enjoy being a firefighter more than being an officer," Guessford said, partly because fighting fires involves less paperwork.

But there's still plenty to be done.

In 2009, Guessford responded to 219 calls and performed 62 hours of company drills, according to Fire Chief Will Ball. Through 2009, Guessford has 710 hours of formal certified training, Ball said.

Like many volunteers, he helps with the fire company's fundraisers. His main job is selling tip jars, which he does on bingo nights, at the August crab feed and at the annual Bonanza Extravaganza.

The key to selling tip jars?

"People having money," Guessford said.

Guessford said he easily spends 27 to 30 hours a week at the fire station, which is tucked away on Brandy Drive.

When he's not there, he's spending time with family or working.

Now that his daughter and son are older, it's a little easier to spend time at the fire station.

"You have family, you have a job and you have this," said Guessford, who graduated from Williamsport High in 1989.

His full-time job is selling emergency vehicles, such as firetrucks and ambulances, out of Capitol Response's Williamsport office.

That means he knows his way around a firetruck, which he often drives.

"When you're the driver of the truck, you don't go in the building," Guessford said. Once the truck arrives, he has to secure it, manage the truck's pump so firefighters get water and operate the aerial ladder on the ladder truck, if needed.

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