Assistant Chief of Radnor Fire Co. Remembers Lesson Learned as a Teen Volunteer: Everyone Can Make a Difference

Ryan Maguire joined Radnor Fire Company as soon as he turned 16. It didn’t take him long to make a difference.

The call came in: Active residential building fire.  A neighboring fire company needed Radnor’s help.

Ryan rode that night with the Rapid Intervention Team – the group whose job is to monitor the safety of the firefighters combating the flames.  As a junior firefighter, Ryan could not enter a burning building, but he had trained hard alongside senior members and was there to assist them on scene. While the seniors hustled to ready their gear, he kept his eyes on the house.

“I was looking through a sliding glass door when I saw the floor start to sag a little bit,” Ryan remembers.

Unsure what it meant, he sensed it wasn’t good. Ryan told a senior firefighter, who quickly radioed the urgent news to the crews inside. Ryan watched as firefighters from both companies rushed out of the building.

“Just as the last one came out, the first floor collapsed.”

Ryan is now Radnor Fire Company’s Assistant Chief. He’s also a Haverford Township Police Officer. He’s a busy guy with an intense job and an avid devotion to golf, but Ryan, now 32, said he’ll always make time for the fire service, because there’s nothing else like it.

“Going on calls is always exciting,” he said. “What little kid doesn’t like the idea of getting on the firetruck and going on calls, and you know what, what adult still doesn’t like it? You get hooked on the adrenaline rush.”

Beyond that is the amazing feeling of having the skills to help someone. “When somebody calls 911, they are having a very rough day, to say the least,” he said. “When you show up, you are able to handle whatever issue they are having for them. And you’re not just helping someone in need, you’re helping a neighbor in need.”

Volunteer firefighting is a tradition in Ryan’s family. His parents, Joe and Ginny, were both Radnor volunteers when he was growing up. His dad is the current chief and his brother Mike is deputy chief. Both of his grandfathers were also Radnor firefighters. 

But Ryan, who is heavily involved with Radnor Fire Company’s training program, said volunteers need not be familiar with the fire service when they join the fire company. And even those who have experience never stop learning.

“I tell everyone, ‘No matter who you are, how old you are, or what you do for a living, there is always something to learn from every fire call, from every training,’” Ryan said.

Ryan also stresses the lesson he learned as a young junior firefighter who saw the floor of a burning home sag, and prevented the firefighters inside from falling into the basement:

“Everyone, from day one, can make a difference.”