CHESAPEAKE, Ohio (WSAZ) -- More than two-thirds of the firefighters in this country are actually volunteers.
As many fire stations in our area struggle to get new young volunteers, there is still the well-respected old guard answering the call.
And one of the highlighted old guard, who's not too old, and doesn't miss a call is this week's WSAZ Hometown Hero -- Ed Webb.
Ed looked surprised when he spotted our camera. He figured we were at the not-usually-decorated Chesapeake-Union Township volunteer firehouse -- to celebrate his 20-year-plus firefighting promotion to chief. Ed spotted a cake in the corner, but didn't notice the writing on top.
Ed is the volunteer firefighter who consoles the grieving, including at a fatal fire where a 10-year-old boy died. He's also the one who talks to the media.
”When the call comes, you have to serve," Ed said. "It could be manning a hose, helping a family that just lost a loved one. There are days when you have a hard time. I want to thank my wife -- everybody's wives. Because when our pagers go off, they hear it, too.”
Besides volunteer firefighting, Ed does plenty of playing Santa, as well as beauty pageant judging, plus a chorus of church work.
He’s taken dozens of classes and seminars and training sessions and hasn't earned a penny. It's the community that reaps the reward that is Ed Webb.
“I'm a township trustee, and we've never had an issue with Ed," Terry Porter said. "We just appointed him chief, and the community is safer with Ed around here.”
Ed’s wife, Debbie Webb, added, “He volunteers because he loves people. He loves to help people. It's not about what you give but what you give back, and the rewards he sees are priceless.”
Ed said, "Once you volunteer and see joy in someone's heart without being paid, sometimes without being thanked, you lay down your head at night and you know you served someone who needed serving."