While some families bond around the dinner table, over a board game or during seaside vacations, Staci McGirr and her two adult children spend much of their quality time responding to fire calls.
McGirr, a nine-year member of the Saugerties Fire Department, was acknowledged by area fire chiefs this month with the Firefighter of the Year award for her fundraising efforts, her composure on the scene and the integral role she plays in the department.
“A lot of the award goes into personality and involvement — she’s pretty social at the firehouse, she does a lot when we’re here,” said Fire Chief Chris Wade. “She’s one of my more active members, she’s done a lot for the department … She’s one of my more active people, she does make more of the calls and drills that we do.”
McGirr said her father-in-law ignited her interest in the pursuit: “He was a paid firefighter, and I used to sit and listen to him tell his stories over and over,” she said. “I enjoyed them so much, and when he passed away I just decided to join. The love for helping people also is part of that.”
Her children, 18-year-old Sean and 20-year-old Kassiddy, soon followed suit. “As a mom, sometimes it’s a little wrenching when you [and your kids are] running into dangerous situations,” said McGirr. “But at the same time it’s a very proud moment when we can share in something that all three of us can do in our community to help in our community.”
According to Wade, McGirr doesn’t just look after her children, but the entire department.
“She’s pretty much in charge of our accountability system and keeps track of all of us on the fire scene,” said Wade. “On the fire scene we all have accountability tags. When you get on the team there’s a tag, and then there’s another tag. She keeps track on who’s inside, who’s outside, how many times they go in and out. All of us can do it, but she’s very good at it.”
The village fire department, as well as all of the other fire departments that serve the department of Saugerties, are always looking for more volunteers.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female, young or old, it’s an amazing thing to be a part of and an amazing family to be a part of,” said McGirr. “If [someone has] any thought of it, they should explore the options.”
The department’s Brooks BBQ, a fundraiser organized by McGirr, will take place at Saugerties’ Knights of Columbus at 19 Barclay St. on Sept. 24 and benefit the Hudson Valley Volunteer Firefighter’s Convention; pre-orders for $15 rib plates and $13 plates of chicken can be arranged with McGirr at (845) 430-7100.