By Eric Tichy
MAYVILLE - Mayville fire Chief Ronald Trippy grew up with a fascination for the fire department.
Forty-five years later, that fascination remains.
"Ever since I was a child I was interested in fire trucks," said Trippy, who grew up in Westfield. "I lived within a block of the fire department, and whenever there was a call I would ask my parents if I could run over and see what the call was.
"Then afterwards I would run back home and tell them what happened."
Trippy, 69, joined the Westfield Fire Department in April 1968. In his 24 years there, he worked his way through the ranks - eventually serving as chief in one capacity or another for six consecutive years.
The longtime first responder owned and operated Grace's Family Restaurant in Mayville for many years. To further his service to the community, Trippy joined the Mayville Fire Department as a mutual aid member.
"I could leave the business whenever I wanted and go to a call if they needed me," he said. "A lot of the times I was the only one here."
In 1992, Trippy moved to Mayville and became a full-time member. He became assistant chief soon after joining, and has remained the top chief for the last 13 years.
"Being retired I can always respond," he said.
On the county level, Trippy served as president and secretary of the Chautauqua County Fire Chiefs Association. Currently he is the 3rd vice president of the county Fire Advisory Board.
Within his 45 years of service, Trippy has seen the evolution of fire technology. But some things never change, he quipped, pointing to the amount of paperwork the state requires to be filed every year.
With Mayville's high call-volume - the department had 440 rescue responses last year alone - the number of fire reports take a lot time to compile, Trippy said.
Time away from the family also is a concern.
"You have to have a wife that is very understanding," he said. "A lot of the times I have two or three meetings a week, and I'm gone all the time."
Of all his responses at both ends of the county, it's a car crash in Westfield many years ago that still resonates today.
"It was a DWI accident," Trippy said. "There were five people killed on Route 5. It sticks out in my mind because I was one of the first ones there, and I went right to the car and saw the gruesome scene."
"There was a child inside. It was just bad," he continued.
Trippy's service countywide has been recognized by fire officials.
"Ron has devoted most of his adult life to the fire service," said Julius Leone, Chautauqua County fire coordinator. "He is a great example of leadership in the county fire service, as he was fire chief in Westfield as well as the current chief in Mayville."
This story is part of a continuing series on first responders. To nominate someone for the feature, contact Eric Tichy at 487-1111 at ext. 251, or email firstname.lastname@example.org