An active Albion firefighter turns 80

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 December 2013 at 12:00 am

Ron Armstrong plans to keep responding to fire calls

Photo by Tom Rivers – Ron Armstrong was treated with a birthday cake and much praise tonight by the Albion Fire Department. Armstrong turned 80. He has been an active firefighter for 55 years.

ALBION – One of Albion’s most dedicated firefighters just turned 80, but that milestone birthday doesn’t mean Ron Armstrong plans to retire anytime soon from the fire department.

“I’ve been blessed with good health,” he said tonight when firefighters treated him to a birthday cake in the fire hall. “Some day I will have to stop. My body will tell me.”

Armstrong served as fire chief in 1975, and then from 1996 to 1998. He said he has plenty of aches and pains. He doesn’t do interior firefighting anymore. He serves mostly as a driver of the big fire trucks.

“During the day he is our main driver,” said Fire Chief Rocky Sidari.

The fire department needs volunteers for the daytime calls when many of the firefighters are at jobs away from Albion. Armstrong knows there is a need. That’s why he has stayed active for the department through his 70s and now at age 80.

Armstrong said he is grateful for the chance to serve so long in the department. He joined back in 1958.

“I had friends who were in it,” he said.

Armstrong served in the Air Force as a radio operator. He was stationed in Germany during the Korean War. He then worked 30 years as a printer at the former Eddy Printing in Albion before working another 16 years at Kodak.

The fire department has members with longer service than Armstrong, but Lee Meisner, the fire department president, doubts anyone has ever been an active volunteer for 55 years with the department.

Many of the firefighters will pull back from the department when they have young children or when they become senior citizens. They may be members, but Miesner said they typically don’t respond to fire calls. That’s not true with Armstrong.