Bob Spence says it was fun growing up near one of the few fire hydrants in the Paramount area north of Hagerstown.
“This was before there was a Longmeadow volunteer fire company, and the Leitersburg (fire company) volunteers used to come to our hydrant to fill up their trucks,” Spence said.
“I used to ride my bike down and watch them. I was only 8, 9, 10 years old. ’Course what little boy doesn’t like lights, sirens, engines?” he asked.
As much as any other reason, those boyhood experiences are probably what led him to serve as a firefighter at volunteer companies here and elsewhere, Spence said. Now a member of the Mount Aetna Volunteer Fire Department, he was its president in 2010 and 2011. He is a life member at the fire company in Kensington, Md., where he lived for several years.
“When the Longmeadow company was formed, I was probably 15 years old and several adults I knew were really involved,” Spence said. “And so, when I was 16, I joined there and was a volunteer for a few years until I went away to college.”
Spence, 53, is executive director of the Fort Ritchie Community Center in Cascade. He became and remains a volunteer firefighter because of the feeling of public service, he said.
“There was certainly sort of that atmosphere of public service in my house,” he said.
His father, R. Noel Spence, served in the 1960s in the Maryland General Assembly and then as a local magistrate court judge. He was a district court judge here from 1993 until he retired in late 2003, and he still substitutes as a district judge when needed.
“He’s always had that sort of sense of public service,” the younger Spence said of his father.
— Arnold S. Platou
Boyhood experiences led man to firefighting career
Bob Spence (March 17, 2012)