Kiger shares wisdom at fire convention; Ramsburg recognized for 69 years of service
CHARLES TOWN — For the first time since 2006, Jefferson County hosted the West Virginia State Firemen’s Convention. Hosted by Citizens Fire Company, the event was held at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.
Following sessions about legislative changes and new requirements, visitors to Jefferson County gathered Friday evening for a banquet in the third-floor ballroom of the casino. Along with a meal, door prizes and the swearing in of the new State Fire Association officers, attendees heard a motivating speech by Shepherdstown resident Micah Kiger.
Kiger, who volunteers with Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department’s Company 3, is also Deputy Chief of Loudoun County Fire and Rescue. He has more than 20 years experience in fire service.
Kiger recounted where it all began, in his hometown, Mannington, where as a five-year-old boy he looked out the window of his babysitter’s home to the fire station next door.
“I was one of ‘those’ kids — a pain, but one people couldn’t help but like,” he said. “For me, firefighting was in every conversation.”
According to Kiger, he took every opportunity to climb all over every red fire truck he could.
“That experience laid a foundation for this kid,” Kiger said. “It took me away from that small town, but I’ve never forgotten where I came from and those who gave me chances along the way.”
Kiger recalled Mannington Fire Chief Joel McCann, who gave him his first firefighter license plate.
“He said I’d be able to use it one day,” Kiger said. “He was the first and most influential mentor I ever had. He taught me a lot including how to give others a chance and to lead by example.
“I learned that training is important, and I developed a passion for training – something that would save my life and others,” Kiger said, as he described a house fire where he and others were trapped. “Training worked.”
“[T]each every firefighter how to be new and not intimidated by asking questions. The best leader is right there beside their firefighters,” Kiger said. “Remember why you decided to follow the path.”
Following Kiger’s speech, recognition was given to the longest-serving firefighter in the room, Glen Ramsburg, of Citizens Fire Company.
Ramsberg has volunteered continuously at the company since Sept. 11, 1950, where he has served in nearly every leadership capacity, except as fire chief.
“I was assistant chief. When John Vickers was chief and he got sick, I suggested that we have an assistant chief, so they made me the assistant,” he laughed. “That was back in 1956.”
In his early years, Ramsburg also ran ambulance calls with Independent Fire Company.
“Independent was the only company to run ambulance calls then,” Ramsburg said. “There were only four companies in the county: Citizens, Independent, Harpers Ferry and Shepherdstown.
“First aid training is what we had,” he said. “Clark Furr taught first aid, and we saved a lot of lives with what learned.”
Several incidents stand out in his memory, including fires at Locust Hill and Miller Chemical in the mid-1970s.
“Independent lost firefighters at that fire,” Ramsburg recalled.
Along with running calls, he also spent his share of time fundraising – calling bingo and flipping pancakes at Citizens’ annual pancake day.
“It’s been a pleasure and an honor to work with so many young people over the years,” Ramsburg said. “And I’m not done yet. I still go to the meetings and as many events as I can.”