When Todd Turner, 51, celebrates his 30th anniversary with the Sycamore Fire Department in April, he’ll mark much more than a career milestone. His work as a first responder has become a family affair: His wife, Melissa, 46, is taking nursing classes; his son, Jake, 21, is taking EMT classes; and his daughter, Sarie, 23, is a part-time firefighter-paramedic in Sycamore and a part-time paramedic in Genoa looking for a full-time job in the field.
Turner, a 1980 Sycamore High School graduate, recently spent a few moments talking with News Editor Jillian Duchnowski about the career that became a family affair.
Duchnowski: How has firefighting changed in the last 30 years?
Turner: Things really haven’t changed a great deal in that you still have to go inside the building, you still have drag a hose, you still have to put water on the fire. Equipment has changed greatly. Our breathing apparatus has changed dramatically; we have thermal-imaging cameras [that allow us to see through smoke]. ... Firefighting is a total team effort; it’s not an individual job. We have a great group of guys on our department that are well trained and work great together. When that alarm hits, we’ve got to function as a team. We do it very well at the Sycamore Fire Department.
Duchnowski: What are some of your most memorable moments with the fire department?
Turner: I can’t begin to tell you how many calls I’ve been on in the 30 years. It’s truly been an honor to not only have grown up in this community but to help this community when they’re having a really bad day. When they call 911, they expect someone to help them. What greater honor to be able to give back to your community in that way.
Duchnowski: Do you have any plans to retire?
Turner: I don’t. This is a young man’s sport, but as long as I stay healthy, I don’t have any plans to retire.
Duchnowski: Were you surprised that your children showed an interest in being first responders?
Turner: Firefighting does not run in our family. It was just something I always knew I wanted to do. If you think about it, for all of their life, it’s all they’ve known. They just didn’t have any other over-powering interests in anything else. They were just like: Dad had a pretty good career with this, it’s pretty noble. ... But trust me when I say: When the bug bites in this field, it’s a tough thing to get out of your system.