While many firefighters at Norriton Fire Engine Company volunteer because the station feels like a second family, some are literally related by blood, and a shared commitment to saving lives. This is the case for the McClure family who all volunteer at Norriton Fire Engine Company.
Kevin McClure, 55, drives the company’s fire trucks and serves as President; his wife, Susan McClure, 55, fights fires, and one of their two sons, Kyle McClure, 26, volunteers with them and serves as Captain.
Norriton Fire Engine Company’s high call volume is attractive to volunteer firefighters like the McClures. The fire company had a record-breaking year in 2019, responding to 544 calls. Of those, Kevin responded to almost 200 of them.
“You never know what you’re going into and things are different every day,” said Kevin.
Although he has only volunteered at Norriton for five years, his years of volunteer firefighting commenced in 1984, and he is currently a life member of both Worcester Volunteer Fire Department and Hancock Fire Company. Susan, who has been at Norriton for almost two years, started volunteering at Hancock Fire Company in 1986, after she and Kevin were dating, and is also a life member.
“Firefighting seemed really exciting and I wanted to help others,” said Susan. “I wanted to do something adventurous and firefighting definitely is an adventure.”
Celebrating 32 years of marriage this year, Kevin and Susan love volunteering with their son, Kyle, and raised him around fire companies. Kyle began volunteering when he was 16, old enough to join the junior firefighting program. He is a member of Worcester and Hancock fire companies, and even balanced firefighting with college while he studied at Shippensburg University and volunteered at the Vigilant Hose Company.
“I grew up at the fire house between my mom and dad volunteering,” said Kyle. “I followed in their footsteps and looked up to them, and just ran with it.”
Kyle joined Norriton Fire Engine Company five years ago, the same day as his dad, and now serves as Captain, which put him in the unique position of giving orders to his parents.
Susan admits it is a different experience following the commands of her son, but overall, she enjoys working with him. “I respect Kyle as an officer of the fire department. He’s very knowledgeable, and puts his heart and soul into firefighting,” said Susan.
Kyle is currently in the U.S. Army Reserves and served as Lieutenant of Norriton Fire Engine Company, leading crews at fire scenes. After a year and a half as Lieutenant, he was promoted to Captain in 2019. The role is similar, but Kyle now handles more behind-the-scenes duties such as training and maintenance on emergency equipment.
“I enjoy helping others and forging a stronger bond with the community, and other volunteers,” said Kyle, who has made many lifelong friendships at Norriton.
Kyle enjoys helping people on one of the worst days of their lives and making them better. His wife is an EMT in another town and understands when Kyle is needed on calls. Being supported by his entire family makes it easier to balance volunteering and life’s responsibilities.
“The best thing is having my parents involved,” said Kyle. “They are very dedicated to helping other people reach their maximum potential.”
His dad, Kevin, does not fight fires anymore, and sticks to driving the trucks and training others how to drive. He says he has complete confidence in Susan and Kyle when responding to calls.
“Kyle takes leadership very forthwith,” said Kevin. “He’s always looking out for everyone and making sure they are safe.”
Kevin said Susan also does what is needed to ensure safety and help others. “She’s very true to heart and tells it like it is.”
In addition to training members how to drive trucks, Kevin serves as President of Norriton Fire Engine Company. In this role, he leads the administrative team and is in charge of fiscal responsibilities for the firehouse, insurance and building upkeep.
Susan says what makes her husband a great volunteer is his easygoing and laid back qualities. “Kevin listens to people and is able to take in different views. He’s very even keeled,” she said.
Like Kyle and Kevin, Susan has also served in leadership positions. She was a Lieutenant of Hancock Fire Company for four years and encourages any females interested in volunteering to live out their dreams.
“Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do,” said Susan. “You’d be surprised at what you can achieve when it’s crunch time.”
Norriton Fire Engine Company is known for its heightened level of training, which has been recognized by the Fire Commissioner’s Office of Pennsylvania. Many volunteers become certified at state and national levels for firefighting and rescue disciplines. They train not only at the station and Montgomery County Fire Academy, but also at the Pennsylvania State Fire Academy, National Fire Academy and many others. All training and gear are provided at no cost.
“Norriton takes training and firefighting seriously, but has a very easygoing, family, friendly vibe,” said Susan. If volunteers need anything, whether it is related to the fire company or their personal lives, other members are always supportive and ready to help.
In order to keep up with Norriton’s high-call volume, Kyle says the station needs everyone from administrative and operations to 16 year olds who want to help their community. “We need a lot of younger people to keep the tradition of volunteering alive – not just in East Norriton and Pennsylvania but across the nation.”
According to Michael Barnshaw, Recruitment and Retention Committee Chair of Norriton Fire Engine Company, there are volunteer opportunities available for all family members and, of course, individuals. “We have many family members who volunteer together in different positions. We need and welcome everyone to join our family.”
To learn more about Norriton Fire Engine Company and volunteer opportunities, visit www.NorritonFire.org.