by Terry Rogers
Growing up across from the Houston Fire House, Robert VanGorder says that the desire to be a firefighter was in his blood from a young age. When he heard the fire whistle blow as a child, he would get excited to see the trucks going by and the firemen headed out to battle a blaze.
“When I was old enough, I decided to get involved,” VanGorder said. “I spent a few years in Houston Fire Department before I got married and moved to Milford. As soon as I moved, I joined Carlisle and have never looked back.”
VanGorder states that things have changed tremendously over the past 50 years with new methods and technology used to fight fires. He said that there is new equipment each year and that learning how to use that equipment can be a challenge.
VanGorder said that anyone who is considering volunteering for the fire company needs to realize that it is a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week volunteer position. There is a need to give up a lot of time for training and providing the service that the fire company provides. He recalls many of the large fires in Milford, from apartment fires, building fires, car fires and serious vehicle accidents.
VanGorder is currently a life member with the company and is no longer required to fight fires. He worked at DuPont for 30 years and then worked as a bailiff for six years. He also owned his own business in Milford. He has been retired since 2001. For the fire company, VanGorder was on the ambulance for 10 years, an engineer for 15 years and acted as a fire policeman for 20 years.
“I remember when I started in the company, when that whistle blew, we ran,” VanGorder said. “It was like an adrenaline rush and we almost fought each other trying to be the first to the station.”
VanGorder has been married to his wife, Joan, for 40 years, has two stepsons and grandchildren. His grandson joined the company for a short time, but is no longer in the fire service.
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