Ogle wins firefighter of the year

Staff writer

Bob Ogle believes he has one duty in life: to serve others.

“I think we all have a duty to lend a helping hand to our neighbor,” the Florence volunteer firefighter said. “I do it because I care about the people in this community. We have a great bunch of people here and it is a great honor to serve them. If someone needs something, I’ll do everything I can to make sure their needs are met. It’s just the way I’m wired.”

Ogle has been a volunteer firefighter for 44 years. In that time, he has always put people first — and plans to continue to do that in the years to come. While he no longer battles fires, he still drives the fire truck, giving the rest of the volunteers whatever they need to get the job done.

“The guys can’t do anything if they don’t have water in their hoses or if their equipment isn’t working right,” he said. “I just make sure that all of those little things are done. I don’t mind it — and I know it helps everyone out.”

So, when the department needed help at the annual pancake feed, he said he was more than willing to put his name in the hat.

“I like to help out whenever, wherever I can,” he said. “It makes me feel like I am doing the right thing.”

He never expected anything in return. Everything he did, he said, was “for the good of the department.” So when Fire Chief Mark Slater announced that he won the annual firefighter of the year award, he was shocked.

“I had no clue I was getting this award,” he said, following the short award ceremony. “I wasn’t expecting it at all. It’s a great honor. I don’t know if I deserve it, but I guess someone did.”

And they did. In fact, all of the volunteers interviewed said Ogle deserved the honor.

“He’s always asking what he can do to help,” Slater said. “He’s done everything from filling out reports to helping us out on the truck. He’s always willing to serve in any way he can.”

Ogle said he enjoys being ready to go out to a fire at a moment’s notice.

“Some people probably think I’m crazy do what I do, but they think that about all firefighters,” he said. “Who would go into a burning building when everyone else is running out? But, I’m proud to serve with a great bunch of men who are willing to do anything to make sure this community is safe.”

Evan Slater received the cadet of the year award for his involvement since 2009. Janet Robinson was awarded a certificate for all of her “hard work and dedication to the department.”

In the past year, the volunteer fire department has responded to 32 fires, including 10 structure and 10 grass fires in Florence, as well as Marion and Peabody. Their response time is currently three to five minutes.

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