Love of volunteering
Montgomery County couples fight fires together
Husband and wife firefighters in Montgomery County cherish the opportunity to volunteer alongside one another. In celebration of Valentine’s Day, the Montgomery County Fire Chiefs Association is happy to recognize these couples.
Tyler Miles and Gina Walters-Miles
Tyler Miles and Gina WaltersMiles began volunteering at Limerick Fire Department as junior firefighters at age 16. Most of their family members volunteer at the fire station as well.
“My great grandfather and my grandmother were members. My father and my father-in-law are both active firefighters,” said Gina.
Tyler is a lieutenant at Limerick Fire Department and Gina, on top of firefighting, is the first female on the board of directors. Tyler also works as a career firefighter at Upper Providence Township and Gina is an autistic support teacher, which inspired her to start Limerick’s Firefighter Day Camp for Individuals with Special Needs.
“I got the opportunity to merge both of my passions together,” said Gina.
At the camp, individuals with disabilities learn about fire safety, get hands-on experience with equipment, learn about the trucks, ladders and hoses, and watch several live demonstrations by firefighters.
“Tyler was a huge help when it came to opening this camp. He was and is my right-hand man,” said Gina.
“Gina is incredibly smart and a go-getter. I love being able to spend time with her at home and training at the firehouse,” said Tyler. “We have a healthy volunteer and home life balance. We leave the fire stuff at the fire station.”
Jim and Lisa Atkins
Jim and Lisa Atkins moved to New Hanover Township in 2010 with their three children, and once their children became teenagers, they decided to serve their community in a different way. They fell in love with their township, the community, and the second family at New Hanover Fire and Rescue.
“I give credit to Jim for starting our firehouse journey. We wanted to show our kids that learning something new and going out of our comfort zone can be done at any age,” said Lisa.
Jim started his fire service education in his late 30s where he received the highest grade in his interior fire class. Lisa started in fire police, organizes the “Letters to Santa” committee that is responsible for responding to children’s Christmas wishlists, and is on track to get her Firefighter 1 Certification at the Montgomery County Fire Academy.
“Lisa’s been a nurse for over 20
years. Her wealth of medical knowledge and compassionate nature is what makes her such a great volunteer. She has the drive to do better for herself and in turn does better for the community,” said Jim.
Although they take their roles seriously on calls and at the station, Jim and Lisa enjoy the camaraderie at the fire house.
“One of the guys asked ‘do you clean like that at home too?’” said Jim, “Lisa was next to me so I responded ‘I have a wife for that’.”
Lisa played along and jokingly glared at Jim. Sometimes she jokes, “so you do know how to clean?” whenever Jim is sweeping or laundering his gear.
Ray and Roberta Bracken
Ray and Roberta Bracken began their firefighting journey in Montgomery County at Centre Square Fire Company in 1974. Although Roberta was not officially a member at the time, she was engaged to Ray and went with him on calls. She saw the shortage of volunteers and would direct traffic. Shortly after, she started working in fire police.
Although they are life members at Centre Square Fire Company, Ray and Roberta now serve at Skippack Fire Company.
“Ray’s compassion, courage and commitment to helping our community inspires me,” said Roberta, “but we do have a bit of a rivalry. I’ve made more calls than him,” she joked.
“It’s been a pleasure volunteering with Roberta. Roberta is a hands-on type of person who gets the job done no matter what. Her analytic skills are a huge asset when we respond to calls,” said Ray.
Ray and Roberta also help out with events at the fire station such as turkey dinners, and Roberta now volunteers as the station’s photographer.
“I’m retired now, but when I do respond to a call, I’m standing with a bunch of fellow firefighters and it’s like being home,” said Roberta.
She documents fire calls by taking photos, which is helpful for training and occasionally investigations.
“There are a lot of ways to get involved with your local fire company. We have volunteer positions for firefighters, junior firefighters, EMTS and administrative members,” said Montgomery County Fire Chiefs Association President George Wilmot III.
Those interested in volunteering at their local fire company can learn more at www.MontcoFireFighters.org.