Riverhead Fire Department is celebrating another 50-year member this month.
Ex-Captain Paul Sparrow was recognized by the department at its monthly meeting this week.
Sparrow joined the Riverhead Fire Department on Oct. 21, 1969.
“I always wanted to help people,” he said in an interview. That’s what motivated him to join.
In his 50 years of service, he’s had plenty of opportunity to do just that.
Sparrow recalls going on ambulance calls for the department “a long time before there was Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance.”
“When we brought somebody back from the depths, that was a tremendous feeling — to have actually saved somebody,” he said.
“Those are the things you remember.”
Sparrow is a member of the Fire Police Patrol Co. No. 1, which he has served as lieutenant and caption.
“We have a good group of people,” he said. “I can honestly say they’re good friends as well as members. Everybody is there for a similar reason — they like to help people out.”
The Riverhead Fire Department is “a close knit department,” Sparrow said. “We have 180 people and everybody knows everybody’s name.”
Sparrow, 73, is retired from Brookhaven National Lab, where he worked in the Collider/Accelerator Department. He retired as the facility manager in October 2017.
He lives in Riverhead with his wife of 47 years, Peggy. They have three children, David, who was a third assistant chief in Riverhead until he moved out of the district, Sharon, who lives in Texas and Joel, who lives in Florida. They also have two grandchildren.
Being a volunteer firefighter is very rewarding, Sparrow said, because “you’re doing good for your community.”
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