A brother and sister team, Patricia and Charles "Cha Cha" German have shared a better portion of their lives with the Manlius Fire Department. For 50 years, Cha Cha served as a volunteer firefighter and active member, and Patricia as a dedicated devotee.
"We have a good comradeship," Patricia said about the department members. "They're good to us and we're good to them, because without them, where would we be?"
Only 15 months apart, the siblings, now 71 years old, still take an active role at the station through fellowship and food. Cha Cha, who joined the department at age 21, said every Tuesday he makes sure to stop in for a visit.
"'Cha,'" he said, re-quoting a comrade. "'You're not getting out as long as you can come over here and sit and talk to us guys."
More than 30 years ago, Cha Cha was diagnosed with diabetes and could no longer fight fires from the inside of a home. Eventually he lost both legs below the knees in the late 1990s.
"I'm a double amputee, and [had] open heart surgery, and had a blood clot a little while back and damn near died," he said. "And I'm still in that fire department."
While Cha Cha can't participate in fires anymore, Patricia said their heart and soul is with the station.
"Every time they get a call, we listen," she said.
With their residence on the main road in the village of Manlius, the two often watch the fire trucks buzz past their house. They stand outside and wave to their brave men and women firefighters, and when they can, their friends will blow on the horn and wave back.
"It's awful busy on this street," she said.
Last year at an installation dinner, Cha Cha was honored with various plaques from officials throughout the state, county, town, village and fire department, commemorating his 50 years as a fire member. Patricia was recognized with a plaque from the department that described her as "a good friend and the epitome of a good neighbor."
"Every fireman, every firewoman, everybody we know in the village has been an inspiration to me and my sister so much," Cha Cha said. "Everybody. We patronize everybody in the village. We want to thank them all for being so good to us."