Jerry Bradham, assistant chief with the Sharon Fire Department, has been named 2008 York County Firefighter of the Year. Bradham, a native of West Salem, Ill, has served as assistant chief since 2003.
Bradham, 63, a volunteer firefighter for 48 years, comes from a family of volunteer firefighters, including five brothers, four children and four grandchildren, Even his wife, Dorothiea "Kay" Bradham, 62, serves as the department's secretary, is qualified to drive the pump operator and is Hazmat certified.
Bradham was selected as firefighter of the year because of his willingness to be an example to the young guys learning the ropes and because he devotes a lot of time to the department, said Randy Thompson, York County fire marshal. "He would shut his business down to respond to a fire," said Thompson. The Herald recently spoke to Bradham.
What does receiving York County Firefighter of the Year mean to you?
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Out of almost 600 firemen in York County, and a whole lot are very deserving, it's quite an honor.
Why did you become a volunteer firefighter?
I just love to do it. It gets in your blood. I like to try to help people. We all like to drive the big red truck.
How has firefighting changed since you began?
Years ago, if you could man a shovel and grab a hose, it was good. Today, it takes a lot more training. There are so many new laws, HIPA laws involved in it now that didn't used to be. There are a lot of chemicals to deal with now.
What do you do as assistant chief?
I operate the truck and pump operator command. I don't have to go inside anymore. I also train people.
What do you do for a living?
I operate a machine shop, but business fell off so bad I had to get a job in January. I work at Industrial Piping in Richburg. I am very fortunate to get a job at 63 in this economy. I try to run the shop when I'm not working at IPI.
Has the economy affected the fire department?
No. In our area, people are very supportive of the fire department. People continue to give support any way they can.
What was the most dangerous situation you have been involved in as a volunteer firefighter?
I've pulled many people out of burning buildings. I've pulled my children's friends from burning cars.