At work, close to home

Published 9:56 pm Friday, March 3, 2017

If you live in Western Branch, there’s a good chance you’ve run into Chesapeake Master Firefighter Tim Fletcher.

A 30-year veteran of the Chesapeake Fire Department, Fletcher has worked out of Station 11 on Dock Landing Road for the past 20 years.

He also lives in Western Branch, close enough to work that he occasionally rides his bicycle to the station. Through the years, he has been active in several local organizations, including the Marlin Swim Club and as a coach for the Western Branch Soccer Club.

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He also volunteered with Boy Scout Troop 16 in Driver during the years his son, Trevor — an Eagle Scout and current sophomore at Christopher Newport University — was active with the troop.

Almost as soon as he joined the fire department in 1986, Fletcher knew he had found his calling.

“I enjoy being part of a team that goes out every day to help people mitigate their crises,” Fletcher said. “I love this community … and I enjoy serving my neighbors, my friends, my kids’ friends.”

Battling fires and helping save lives on rescue calls may be the most publicized parts of firefighters’ work. But the daily, more mundane activities that get overlooked are equally important: installing car seats in vehicles, performing blood pressure checks for anyone who stops at the fire station and asks, and doing the community outreach associated with taking fire engines to schools and community events.

“We want people to interact with us, to know who we are and what we do,” Fletcher said. “It’s particularly important for kids, who may be apprehensive of people in uniform, to understand what firefighters do. We want them to know we’re their friend.”

Fletcher is on a six-member committee working on a major conversion to upgrade the fire department’s self-contained breathing apparatus, the air cylinders and breathing masks that firefighters wear into hazardous situations. He expects that project will take about a year.

Fletcher says he is grateful to citizens, who have shown their appreciation for firefighters’ services with random handshakes in a Walmart parking lot or by dropping off freshly-baked cookies at Christmas.

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