The Metropolis Fire Department gained not only two more firefighters last week, but another generation.
Kyler Childers and Ashton McDuffee took the oath of office on Friday, Feb. 24, in front of family and city officials. Those family members included two grandfathers and a father who are all serving as firefighters.
Childers is the fourth generation in his family to serve as a firefighter. His great-grandfather Paul Childers spent close to 20 years as a city firefighter and lived just around the corner from the then-east fire station. His grandfather Mike Childers is the director of the Massac County Fire District, and is marking 48 years as a firefighter, including 22 with the city, 17 of which were as chief. His father Clay Childers is marking 30 years as a firefighter, 23 of them with the city, in addition to being a volunteer with the Massac County Fire District.
“I’m excited about the fourth generation of the Childers family being a part of the fire department,” said Metropolis Fire Chief Micah Tolbert. “Having worked alongside Clay for the last 23 years, working under Chief Childers for a number of years at both the county and city, seeing that working relationship grow (to Kyler) and their being a part of that journey as well, it’s pretty exciting to be a part of it. It’s not very often you see generations in the fire service go beyond two or three; going into a fourth isn’t a common thing these days. It’s a pretty unique experience and position for them to be in. I couldn’t be more proud of it.”
McDuffee is the second generation in his family to become a firefighter. He’s following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Danny Hillebrand, who in April will mark 34 years with the Massac County Fire District.
For both Kyler Childers and McDuffee, the decision to become a firefighter wasn’t a difficult one.
“I wish them luck!” Mike Childers said to the new firefighters. “Kyler’s talked like he’s always wanted to do it.”
Kyler Childers served as a Marine for five years.
“I’m glad to carry on the family tradition, and I’m excited to start this journey,” he said.
“It’s pretty neat to have a fourth generation,” Clay Childers said. “I honestly didn’t think he was going to do this when he joined the Marines.”
McDuffee served with the Massac County Fire District for four years as a volunteer.
He explained that with the working relationship of the city and county fire departments and many of the county volunteers also serving as city firefighters, “I was raised up around the city and county fire departments, so it’s always been a dream,” he said.
“I couldn’t be more proud,” Hillebrand said, looking over at McDuffee.
Growing up around the Metropolis Fire Department, Kyler Childers and McDuffee agreed that they’re “glad to serve with such a great group of guys,” Childers said. “A lot of these guys I’ve known since I was a kid. They’ve taught me and shown me around.”
The two began their nine-weeks of training at the University of Illinois Fire Service Institute in Champaign-Urbana on Sunday, Feb. 26.
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