Family affair

The Simpsons make firefighting a family affair

ADAMS, New York (WWNY) — In fire departments, first responders often refer to each other as siblings.

At Adams Fire Department, it really is a family affair.

“In the early 1950s, my dad joined the fire department,” former fire chief Bob Simpson said. “He was the first member of our family to join the department when we moved to Adams.”

And he certainly wasn’t the last. The Simpson family is made up of at least nine active firefighters: Bob Simpson, his son, Deputy Chief Rob Simpson, and his two sons, Robby and Ben, to name a few.

“You grow up seeing the fire engines, trying on some of the turnout gear, the helmets, the coats and the boots that were always too big,” Rob Simpson said, “hoping one day you can fill those boots.

Robby and Ben say they basically grew up in the fire station watching their father and grandfather.

Now they are in action, as part of the Explorers program.

Children aged 10 to 14 can start training. 14-16 year olds can help on the sidelines.

“They are invaluable,” said Bob Simpson. “They know where everything is. If a firefighter needs a tool, all he has to do is find an explorer and tell him to give me that tool and he’ll find it.

They can also help with low-risk calls, like rescuing kittens.

“I think it’s good to start being the person that as a little kid you imagined you were,” Ben Simpson said.

When an explorer is between 16 and 18, like Robby, he can start leaving school for calls.

“I was going to go to BOCES in about 20 minutes and a friend of mine looked at my phone and said you got a call,” he said. “I told my friend to tell my teacher BOCES that I won’t be here today.”

“This program has been a real lifesaver for this department,” said Bob Simpson. “Out of 61 members, we have 27 from the Explorer program.”

It’s the assurance that the department will thrive for generations to come, whether your last name is Simpson or not.

“Yes, it’s our family here,” said Rob Simpson, “but we’re part of a big family in the fire department.”

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