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Trained and ready to respond

Seven members of the Middlesex Volunteer Fire Department in Urbanna recently completed Virginia Department of Fire Programs courses, which include Firefighter 1 and 2, and Hazmat Operations. Above, from left, they are Joanna Forrer, David Rose, Brent Brooks, Ben Burch, John Halpin, Garrett Walton and Nick Greenwood.
by Tom Chillemi

The Middlesex Volunteer Fire Department (MVFD) in Urbanna is entering a new era.

Ray Burch Jr. has been elected chief to take the place of Bill Thrift, who has stepped down after 34 years as chief.

Burch said this week he has an enthusiastic group of young firefighters that have been trained and are seeking more training. “They have sacrificed a lot to do what they do for Middlesex,” said Burch. “I’m excited to be starting a new beginning.”

He added that the new firefighters and the veterans, who have more experience, will complement each other.

Three professional firefighters are among the officers of the MVFD, Burch said. The assistant chiefs are Barry Powell, who is a York County professional firefighter, and Kevin Clark, a professional firefighter in Spotsylvania County. Captain Chris Marshall is a professional firefighter in Hampton.

Other captains include Joanna Forrer, Lee Walton and James Pitts. Lieutenants are Ben Burch (Ray Burch Jr.’s son) and Brent Brooks. Joe Moschetti, a retired professional firefighter, is the public information officer.  

Ray Burch Jr. grew up in a firefighting family. “Firefighting was bred into me. All we knew in our house was firefighting,” he said. His late father, Ray Sr., was a lifetime member of the MVFD. His late mother, Betty, worked in the auxiliary, and his sister, Lois Jean Brooks, has been active for many years in the auxiliary.

Burch recalled coming to the Urbanna firehouse with his father when he was very young. After looking at the big fire trucks for years he became a junior firefighter at the age of 16, and he’s stayed involved ever since, serving as assistant chief for several years.

“The members of this fire department work hard for the citizens of Middlesex County to provide the utmost quality of fire protection and fire prevention that we possibly can,” said Burch. “This bunch is serious about their job. They are willing to help in any way they can.”

Other MVFD firefighters include Bill Thrift, Keith Townsend, John Forrer, Hunter Hudnall, David Rose, Wayne Jessie, John Halpin, Jamie Billings, Mark Shelton, Eric Smith, Nick Greenwood, J.T. Bristow, Garrett Walton, Rob Henkel and Doug Lloyd.

posted 01.13.2010

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