Mother and son duo, Donna and Brian Weil, always look forward to volunteering together at Ringing Hill Fire Company.
“It’s a bonding time for us. We don’t get to spend a lot time together so volunteering with my mom is a wonderful experience,” said Brian.
As an Assistant Chief, Brian oversees personnel on fire and emergency scenes and also serves as a training officer. He has volunteered with Ringing Hill Fire Company since August of 2014, but originally started at Bechtelsville Fire Company in 2007. A lot of his friends volunteered there and his uncle served as Deputy Chief. “I listened to their stories and it sounded really cool to fight fires,” said Brian.
About three years ago, Brian asked his mom, Donna, to help out with bingo at Ringing Hill, which has a weekly bingo every Saturday and an auxiliary bingo once a month on Sundays.
“The best part is being around people; I always have fun,” said Donna, who is an auxiliary member. “I enjoyed helping out and never stopped.”
Donna sells tickets, extra games and assists with call back bingos. She is a fixture at Ringing Hill’s bingos, volunteering almost every week. Brian said participants are constantly chatting with his mom.
“She is very outgoing and really good at interacting with the community members who come in to play bingo,” said Brian.
He volunteers on a four-week rotation schedule at the bingos. When he is there, Donna helps him count the money and handle payouts. After the games are over – it usually lasts three to four hours – Donna and Brian stay an extra hour to talk and catch up.
“He has a wonderful personality and loves to help people just like I do. He takes a lot after me,” said Donna. “I’m so proud of how far he has come since he started there.”
She admires of how hard her son has worked to complete courses and earn certifications as well as winning awards from the fire company. Brian has completed Firefighter I (about 200 hours of classes), emergency vehicle and pumper driver courses, HazMat training annually, first aid, CPR and many others.
“The fire academy is always adding more and more classes,” said Brian. “You need the certifications to back you up and prove you’re qualified.”
Brian became an Assistant Chief in November of 2019 and put his skills to the test at a memorable call on New Years Day of 2020. “It was the first call I got be in command at an active fire incident,” he said.
Although, it was nerve-wracking, Brian ran the scene well and received positive feedback from other officers. He was well prepared thanks to the training and equipment provided for free by Ringing Hill Fire Company.
In addition to continually expanding his own firefighter education, Brian enjoys teaching and training new volunteers. “The most rewarding part is passing along my knowledge of being in the fire service for 13 years now and setting them up for success,” said Brian. “I even teach the older guys new tricks.”
With advancements in technology, he instructs volunteers how to work the newer trucks and equipment.
No matter what skills individuals have, Ringing Hill Fire Company can utilize them. “There is more than enough work to go around for those who want to help whether it’s fundraising or firefighting,” said Brian. “We always need more firefighters.”
When someone joins Ringing Hill, they also become a part of a family. “Everyone gets along and are very kind to each other, and we also joke around and have fun,” said Donna.
When Donna isn’t volunteering, being a mom to three children or a grandmother to five, she works full-time at the Gilbertsville YMCA as an Assistant Group Supervisor of the daycare.
Brian works full-time at Watson McDaniel Company as a Lead CNC Machinist. He admits that it can be hard to balance work, volunteering and family life, but wouldn’t have it any other way. He and his wife, Sarah, have a daughter, 8, and son, 11, and are thankful for his mom for always being present and supportive in their lives.
“I’ve always had a great relationship with my mom and she’s always been involved with my kids,” said Brian.
Ringing Hill Fire Company is proud to foster a positive family-friendly environment. “Everyone looks out for each other like family here,” said Chief Bud Lightcap. “We look forward to welcoming new volunteers and encourage anyone interested to check out our website and fill out an inquiry form.”
To learn more about Ringing Hill and volunteer opportunities, visit www.JoinRingingHill.org.