Tim Burns Eulogy
I am proud and humbled to speak today about Tim.
I first met Tim at the New Burlington Fire Department when he would tag along with his dad who was a firefighter there with me. At that time our fire department was as much of a family as our real family. On our rotating crew schedule we had company clean up every 4 weeks and Tom would bring the boys with him for this. At some point in that early stage Tim had a seed that was planted in his mind. It could have been the FD family and camaraderie that we had or maybe the excitement of being at the station. Whatever it was, it was his starting point.
I was lucky enough to be the Post leader when Tim turned 16 and he was able to join up with the Explorers that we had at New Burlington. The Explorer program was going strong all over the county and we were one of many posts. At that time, our kids were actively used at the station before during and after fires and events. There was very little they couldn’t do. We had them ride with us with the intention of teaching them the job. This program only further developed that seed that was growing within. The fire department was interested because it helped to build a recruit system. When the kids turned 18 they knew the department and the system and people were familiar with them.
Upon turning 18 he could apply for a volunteer firefighter status which he obviously reached. That gave him the opportunity to get his certifications in order so he could run as a regular firefighter. In those days you could join a fire department and get your certifications there. With jobs being very limited there, he started to look to other departments and to run the circuit. That is running for multiple departments which often times meant more hours in the fire stations than a full time position. When Tim was hired full time for West Chester was a day he had worked long and hard to achieve. Countless hours, trainings and events that he was a part of all were a part of reaching that peak of his career. Then a few years ago I approached Tim to join up with me at the Glendale Fire Department. I explained that we were building a department and my idea was to build what we had at New Burlington, a strong, close knit organization that valued training, education, safety and each other. I felt that his experience from all types of fire departments was valuable in our direction.
The process of continuing the building of the current Glendale Fire Department has been one that Tim jumped right in to help. He knew what I was looking for and his point of view matched perfectly. When we needed standard operating procedures rewritten he was there. When we needed to work on recruitment and staff building he was there again. Then when we went after improving our department rating he worked towards attaining that goal too. Glendale firefighters respect Tim and his experience. Most new people come in to contact with Tim early as he is part of the hiring process. The Village of Glendale Office staff feels confident that things get done the right way and on the first time. I believe we are getting where we want to be with creating the same environment we had early on in our careers.
Tim did it right. He started at the beginning as an Explorer and worked his way through various types of fire departments to reach the goal at the top. No short cuts or by-passes, but good old hard work. Upon his travel he encountered many people that consider him a friend, many who are here today. I can say that I too consider him to be a friend. As an example of the amount of trust we have in Tim, there was a time that he was a babysitter for my wife and I with our boys. Cindy was completely comfortable with Tim taking that responsibility. I also recall handing over my car keys so he could have cool car for prom. For those of you that know me you understand my level of trust. To me he was more than just a friend. I would more accurately describe him as friend, coworker, confidant, student, teacher, example, and mentor.
What we are doing here today is an unfortunate part of the fire service. Those of us that are still part of it need to take something away from here. Even if it is just an awareness of the hazards that we deal with regularly there is something to be learned. Chiefs should look to work with community administration to provide a higher level of protection for the firefighters and then develop procedures manage that risk. Line officers need to work with those processes and help by addressing it with all department members. Firefighters must look within to make the decisions to reduce exposures to minimize the risk. We all know that there is always risk but we need to be smarter about it. So the fire department saying really should now be “281 Years of Tradition – Improved by Progress”. Fire Chief Ben Franklin said “An ounce of Prevention is worth a pound of cure”. That too applies to the fire service of today.
Thank you & continue to be safe!
Chief Kevin Hardwick
Glendale Fire Department