Jeff Patterson retired after 20 years with the Frederick Fire Department as a volunteer.
Patterson started working with Frederick Fire Department Aug. 1, 1996. Frederick FD is a combination department where half the men are career firefighters and the other half are volunteers.
Volunteer firefighters still train throughout their time with the fire department, but they respond to fires from wherever they are, whether it’s from home or their full-time jobs, while career firefighters work 24 on and 48 off and sleep at the firehouse.
“I was an insurance agent when I first started at the fire department,” Patterson said. “I’ve ruined many nice suits when I’d get called out to a fire or the scene of an accident while I was at work.”
Patterson said there is an adrenaline rush with every call but the best part of the job is giving back to the community that has given so much to him.
Patterson is a 1983 graduate of Fredrick High School. He didn’t become a firefighter until he was 30.
“I thought I’d lost my chance to become a firefighter. It was always my dream as a kid when I’d watch ‘Emergency’ on TV to do what they did,” Patterson said. “Even though I began later in life, I had a good career.”
The biggest difference Patterson has noticed since his retirement is the absence of his pager. He’s worn it for 20 years so now he feels like there is something missing on his belt. On the other hand, Patterson said it is nice sleeping through the night without getting a call about a fire or car wreck.
“It’s hard driving by crosses around the county and knowing someone lost their life in this car wreck,” Patterson said. “You kind of relive that and it makes you appreciate life just a little bit more.”
Patterson said the fire station can always use more people, whether they’re volunteer or career firefighters. He would encourage anyone who thinks they might be interested but aren’t sure if they can handle the job to just go down to the station and talk to the guys. Ask questions and look around.
Reach Kathleen Guill at 580-379-0588, ext. 2602.