Sep 17, 2010 Gordy Kotars Uncategorized
Like father, like sons
Throughout the State of New York there are most likely plenty of volunteer fire departments with a father/son- or father/daughter-member combo. There is probably a number that even have a father and two sons or daughters in the department. But, how many departments can boast having a father and three sons within the department? The 100-percent, volunteer-run Belgium-Cold Springs Fire Department, which has the ominous shadows of a massive Anheuser-Buesch regional plant within its fire district, can.
Past Chief Jay Woodruff, a 33-year career, volunteer firefighter and New York State Certified fire instructor, watched his sons mature and nurture a similar interest in fire service by joining the department. Justin, 22, and Brendyn, 19, joined the Junior Fire Department and progressed through the ranks to eventually obtain full membership. The oldest, Aaron, now 25, joined the department at 18. All three not only maintained their grades in school, but also obtained various fire service scholarships for college.
Aaron left the department in 2008 to take up residency in New York City where he is now enrolled in the NYPD Police Academy and ready to embark in a new career. The department wishes him all the safety and luck in the world.
Justin joined the fire service at age 16 as a junior. He now rides with the Snyder Fire Dept near Buffalo where he is attending college. He loves to come back home on breaks and vacations, so he can ride along with his dad and younger brother.
Brendyn joined at age 15 and was able to become Firefighter One Certified while attending Baker High School. On top of that, he was recently awarded a scholarship by the Onondaga County Volunteer Firemen’s Association, one that he will be using quickly, as he has been accepted at Vaughn College of Aeronautics & Technology in New York City.
All three young men have a deep respect for their father and his knowledge of the fire service as well as a trust in his teachings, as they all received certifications through his courses.
Dad (Jay) wasn’t the first Woodruff in a fire helmet either. His father, Ken Woodruff, got his start back in the 1950s in the Plainville Fire Department and, before that, his Grandfather Roy was a fire commissioner in the 1940s.
I called Jay Woodruff after the interview and asked him two more questions:
Chief, seriously, the radio tones go off, reported structure fire, you and the boys are all home (they live a quarter-mile from the station). So, you make the first fire engine out, pull up to a working house fire, are all of you going in that building on that first hose line? He didn’t hesitate. “I have every confidence in my kids. I know how well they’re trained, or I would not have certified them.”
Then I said, I never asked, is your wife or any daughters in the fire department? He laughed, “No, we have no daughters, and my wife, she used to help out on major incidents with coffee/cold drinks, but not since I stepped down as chief.”
Congratulations to the Woodruff Boys from Belgium-Cold Springs.
Former Chief Jay Woodruff, left, stands with his sons Justin, center, and Brendyn at the Belgium-Cold Springs Fire Department. All three boys, including his eldest, Aaron (not pictured), have followed their father into volunteer service at the department.