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Pioneers of the Delaware Fire Service

Monday, August 29th, 2016, 6:02 pm

This issue we are featuring a good friend to many of us, who may be small in stature but has a big heart. That person would be the one and only John P. Fox. John has been a fixture in the New Castle County fire service for many, many years, having joined the Mill Creek Fire Company in 1963. John served his country in the US Army. He attended many training programs at the old fire school when it was held in Camden-Wyoming and also attended many classes at the DSFS.

John is also a member of the Aetna Hose, Hook and Ladder Company in Newark. In his 53 years with the Mill Creek Fire Company he has held the office of President; board of director member; First Assistant Chief and Deputy Chief, and is still active with Mill Creek. John was very active in many other organizations in New Castle County and the state, having served as President of the NCC Chiefs Association; New Castle County Volunteer Firemen’s Association; New Castle County Fire Police Association; and the Delaware State Fire Chiefs Association.

When John was President of NCCVFA and I was his 1st Vice-President, he told me, “Romig, just keep your mouth shut and do what I tell you!” I said yes, Mr. President. I believe Ray Krett was 2nd Vice President at the time. We had a couple of good years with that crew.

John has always been very outspoken and says what he feels regardless of whether he made people glad or mad! He would always point at you to make sure that you knew he was talking about you or to you. John stills attends the county fire police meetings to make sure that they are doing things as they should be, and is usually at the county firefighter meetings, as well.

John is also an active member of the Delaware Valley Fire Chiefs Association; Cumberland Valley Volunteer Firemen’s Association; and the Delmarva Fireman’s Association. He is usually accompanied by some of the other members of MCFC and/or his daughter Patricia (above). He and one of his mentors, Larry Mergenthaler, travel around to the meetings out of state every once in a while, as well.

John mentioned that his most memorable fire was the mansion fire at Carousel Farms. I can’t really remember any fires that I was on with John, but he was probably at many that I ran. John said that he joined the fire service for something to do. I believe that from his record he did more than that. He made it a point to lead some of the greatest organizations in New Castle County.

A lot of the older fellows remember John’s squeaky voice from the 911 center for his 32 years of service. After retiring from the call board (that’s what is was called back then) he went on to work for the DRBA for 12 years in the maintenance department.

In 2013 John was awarded Firefighter of Year by the NCCVFA and, coincidentally, his daughter Patricia, then Assistant Chief with the Aetna Hose, Hook and Ladder Company, was named Firefighter of the Year by NCCVFA in 2015. John said that was probably the most memorable moment in his fire service career. Patty was always there to pin on any new badge he acquired.

I asked John who some of his mentors or folks who inspired him to do what he did for the fire service and some of those names would be Dave Rambo and Bill Clark of Station 16; Joe Hojinicki of Station 22 and, of course, one of his best buddies, Larry Mergenthaler of Station 21.

John’s words of wisdom to the younger generation are to, “Become a member, be active and learn as much as you can, as you are never too old to learn something new.”

Through all of this fire service he has had as his best friend and sidekick (in addition to Patricia) his lovely wife Ann who is a member of the Cranston Heights Fire Company.

John, I really miss attending meetings and messing with you, but you know it is all in fun. You have been a good friend of mine since I joined FPFC in 1970, and I hope that we continue to be friends.


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Category: Columns, Delaware, Delaware, Print Editions, State News


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