Profile: Nick Downing

In your own words, please describe your role in the Whitehouse Fire Company organization?

I, like many of my colleagues, wear multiple hats at the firehouse. And only one is a helmet. When I do wear the helmet I am an interior firefighter. I have been trained in extrication, rope rescue, brush fires, and everything else needed to be a firefighter. 

As an executive officer, we need to keep the company that is the WFC running. It involves not only dealing with the day-to-day issues, but looking into the future to understand what we need to do to serve our community five plus years from now.

What other things do you do outside of the Fire Company and how do you balance the demands of volunteering with your other activities?

I have so many interests and never enough time to do them all. There is a saying in the firehouse - you must take care of your family, your work, and your firehouse in that order. I try to live by that. Family is very important to me so I make sure everything else doesn’t damage my family obligations. The trick comes when you realize your fellow firefighters become like family.

I am an avid hiker who enjoys section hiking the Appalachian Trail. I maintain an organic garden that I am proud of. I am also a photographer who takes part in weekly photo challenges. I enjoy cooking. While I do less of it these days, I enjoy mountain biking and scuba diving. I also love to travel. I’ve Eurorailed around Europe 3x (6+ months total). I’ve run with the bulls in Pamplona Spain and scuba dove the corals of Thailand.

The commitment of time to be a firefighter is significant. It can take you away on Thanksgiving day or at 2 am after you’ve had a long day. And I am at the firehouse more nights than I want to count. Luckily I have an understanding family that supports me in helping my community.

What is your favorite part about being part of the Whitehouse Fire Company?

We are proud of our firehouse and maintain it well. We keep our trucks and our house clean. We ask a lot from our members and they deliver. I am also impressed with the members. They are always looking to help the community. I am amazed at what they do for others.

What has been your most memorable moment in your volunteer career?

While there are so many memorable moments, one that stands out is being part of a team that found a lost woman who had fallen into a stream. There were an enormous number of rescue workers looking for her and we had the luck of finding her and it was getting late. She had fallen down an embankment and landed in a stream. I am so happy she didn’t end up spending the night in that stream.