John Winslow is not one to shy away from danger. He led a 30-year career as an agent for the FBI, doing undercover assignments, being appointed to various squads and working innumerable hours, day in, day out. Now, seven years after his retirement from the government agency, he's taken on a new kind of risky business -- as an exterior firefighter for the Manlius Fire Department.
Winslow, a rookie volunteer, was sworn in last summer, July 4. He said he answered the call during the department's 2007 campaign, inspired by words from his pastor.
"The pastor at our church, Doug Bullock at Eastern Hills, encouraged all the people in church to go out and get involved with the community," Winslow said. "About that time they had all the recruiting posters up and so I thought that would be a good opportunity for me."
Winslow's family is no stranger to firefighting. His uncle was a professional firefighter in Utica for 35 years. His two brothers were volunteer firefighters and his nephew is a fire chief in Penn Yan, Yates County.
"I've always admired what they do and their dedication," he said.
As an exterior firefighter, Winslow is part of scene support. They attach hoses to fire hydrants, set up ladders and lights, and haul equipment.
"We're there to support the guys with whatever they need," he said about those who fight fire inside the blazing structure. Interior firefighters train at least double or triple the time of exterior firefighters who are prohibited from entering a burning building, he said.
Exterior firefighters also respond to automobile accidents where people may be trapped inside their car, and even to odd smells in homes.
"Just our showing up is comforting to the people and you can see that," Winslow said. "Sometimes they're embarrassed because they called up the fire department but they shouldn't be because that's what we're there for."