Don Murdock 'Don't Call Me a Hero'
1. What is your current title & your previous experience?
Currently I am Full–time Professor at a Community College, my previous experience in the Emergency Services, I was a volunteer firefighter, 911 dispatcher, moved into full time, became a First Class F, Firefighter (duties during my career were Rescue Truck, Pumper, Tanker, Ariel Truck,) after I retired that is when I conceptualized and brought the first Fire fighting training to our community college, creating partnerships with numerous with Local and Large Municipalities Fire departments, along with the Provincial Government as well as Federal Military and International Airport Firefighting and since trained hundreds of which I am very pleased are now full time firefighters, in addition supporting local departments with their volunteer fire training.
2. What is your favorite part of working for your department?
One of the areas that I reflect back upon is the feeling of pride in wearing the uniform, team environment and being able to be in a position to help others.
3. How do you define success?
I believe success can be defined in a variety of different ways, a lot of people define success as monetary, but for me success is to have a
dream or a vision and the determination to follow it through, continue to pursue this, gaining little steps as you progress, engage all the diversity and criticism as a learning tool whether good or bad, but continue on, until you have reached the plateau level you were striving
4. What have you learned over your lifetime that you'd like to share with the younger generation?
As a college professor I actually do this on a regular basis, because my students for the most are of the younger generation, one of the most important factors I try to relate to them is how important they are, and how proud I am of them because they have made it this far in their educational success. Learn to embrace the past, learn from it, expand on it, and continue to move forward and to enjoy
life, respect themselves as well as others and finally using the cliché “when one door shuts another one opens”, so do not despair when someone says no because they will, look at it as an opportunity for improvement.
5. What is your favorite hobby?
I love to fish, but I really love to play my guitar, sing and create music.
6. Who has had the greatest influence on you?
There have been so many over the years from family members, friends to the great Johnny Cash, Elvis, and Merle Haggard in the music side of things to outstanding Heads of State in my mind such as President Kennedy. I like people that are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in, these are the people that I have learned from the most.
7. What will be your legacy? Is the world better because of you/your work/your influence?
I would very much like to believe like so many other Emergency Services Workers, Military Personnel, that due to being on the job at the right time in their lives that I had made a difference, and to all the students over the years saying something like “if it wasn’t for Don I would not of had the opportunity”.
8. What's the funniest work story/ event you remember?
There were so many, but one that stands out, we had this Rookie first time on the floor, we were on night shift, as you know up here in Canada our winters get a little nasty, so before we went to bed “yes sometimes we did” I opened all the windows, it was freezing in the room but nobody could get any rest but we pretended to, because I told the rookie the Captain liked lots of fresh air when he is sleeping, so under our blankets we laughed our heads off especially when snow was coming in the windows, the poor guy was shivering all night. He stayed with it, he is a Platoon Chief today.
9. Is there anything I haven't asked about that you would care to comment on?
Just a little on the song we wrote “don’t call me a hero” PSTD was not a common phrase when this happened to me, I am so glad the Industry for the most part has agreed upon the importance of dealing with this, verses our old days when our treatment was going our favorite bar and drowning the memoires for another night.
10. What is your favorite dinner & what do you drink with it?
My favorite dinner is a good old BBQ Steak, although my wife is for chicken or fish, and lots of green stuff she says is good for me, back in
the day a few beers would go good and the wife would enjoy her wine, now since we are as pure as the white driven snow lols, pop, and
Mr. Donald Thomas Murdock, M.B., Medal of Bravery
Date of Instrument: September 29, 1986
Date of Presentation: December 5, 1986
Firefighter Donald Roy Ferguson, M.B.
Firefighter Donald Thomas Murdoch, M.B.
Shortly after midnight on 29 March 1985, the Whitby, Ontario, Fire Department was informed that two
children were trapped in a house fire. Within minutes, Firefighters Ferguson and Murdoch entered the burning building and, in zero visibility and intense heat, went in search of its occupants. When Firefighter Ferguson heard a child's cries
for help, he guided his steps through the long smoke-filled corridor by placing his hands on the wall. Concentrating on the young victim's voice, he located the ten-year-old girl in her bed. As he left the bedroom with the child, he met Firefighter Murdoch an proceeded towards the exit. The trio was crossing the kitchen area when a ball of flames suddenly knocked Firefighter Ferguson and the little girl to the floor. Firefighter Murdoch seized the child and carried her outside while Firefighter Ferguson exited on his own. Despite severely burned
hands, Firefighter Ferguson re-entered the house, found the other child in her crib and carried her out of the inferno.
My name is Dewey Johnston, I am originally from Peck, Michigan but moved to Brown City, Michigan in 1999. I am married with 4 wonderful girls, my step daughter Ashleigh Blovsky 19, my oldest Taylor who lives with her mom in Colorado she is 15 and the two youngest Lexi who is 10 and Rylee who is 5 who both go to Brown City Schools. I have been fortunate enough to have been promoted a few times over my almost 11 year career from fire fighter to Lieutenant then Captain and now I am currently the Assistant Chief of our department. My full time job is as a Materials Manager at Llink Technologies in Brown City a factory that produces sunvisors and other assorted interior trim parts for the auto and heavy truck industries.
1. Did your background have any bearing on your chosen profession? My love of fire fighting happened later in life my wife's father had been a fire fighter for many years and through him I grew to love the fire service and although he did not push me to join, he was very excited when I asked to become a fire fighter with Brown City Fire Department. It was something that brought us closer together and cemented the bond that we had through what I have came to know as "the brotherhood". Though he passed away a couple years ago his legend lives on at our department.
2. How many years have you been an firefighter? I have been a fire fighter for almost 11 years now, I joined the department in July of 2001 a few months prior to 9/11 which brought the fire service into a whole new focus with the world.
3. What is the most gratifying thing you have ever been through as an firefighter? The most gratifying thing is getting thank you cards from people you have helped or on scenes when you can help ease the pain of someone who's whole world has come crashing down around them and to be able to go back into a fire and bring out some momento that they though lost forever or to look into someone's eyes at a car crash and tell them they will be ok as you are trying to cut the car out from around them. Only to find out later that the person came out of it ok and is back to their normal life and all potentially because of what you did to help them.
4. Describe a memorable experience that you have had on the job? The most memorable thing would be when we were awarded the piece of the World Trade Center and we traveled to New York City to pick it up. When we got home the outpouring of love and American pride that we felt was very overwhelming. To have a police escort through 4 states and to basically have a parade route from Flint to Brown City was extremely gratifying that all our hard work to secure this artifact and bring it home was well worth it!
5. What would be your advice to any up and coming firefighters? Listen to the veterans that are on the department, keep quiet and when you think you know it all you need to quit because you never know it all and always strive for more knowledge that you can put in your "tool box" to use later on a scene or incident.
6. What would you have done if you hadn't of became a firefighter? I really dont know, fire fighting is such a big part of my life now I really cant imagine my life without it. I would not have made the great friends that I have made that will last a life time.
7. What do you like most about your job? Least? The best part of my job still is "the adrenline hammer" when you get woke up in the middle of the night and you scurry to get your cloths on and get in the car to get to the fire hall, the drive seems to take forever and you hear dispatch say "the building is fully engulfed and we are not sure if there are people inside" it feels like someone is squeezing the life out of your neck as you try to control all the new found energy you have and calm yourself down because the most prepared fire fighter is the calmest. The least favorite part of the job is dealing with people's attitudes and lack of work ethic and the politics and drama that can arise.
8. What is a typical day like? As a paid on call volunteer its really hit or miss and mostly miss. We could go 2 weeks without any run at all and then we could be going non-stop. We are always ready though and no matter what is going on, when the tones hit we will be on our way.
9. Is there anything that I haven't asked you, that you would like to add? I feel that alot more fire fighters should be aware that they are a reflection of their departments and how important it is to represent the department in a postitive way. If you treat people unkindly at scenes and in the public that reflects poorly on the department and those same people you may need for fund raisers in the future to help with future needs.
10. What is your favorite dinner & what do you like to drink with it? Favorite dinner would have to be steak and potatoes with a nice cold beer. Nothing better!
It amuses me to no end to hear about the problems of the fire service today that we who have survived from those same problems that occurred in the last century. In those days we learned to read a fire's advance or action by using our ears, eyes, nose, and feel. With all of the gear they wear today they do not know when they are in trouble until it is to late. We knew when it got untenable or unstable and we got out. We had backdraughts and smoke explosions in those days as well but we learned to recognize them although I did get caught one time and got blown off of the porch roof into a hedgerow that saved me. It was a lack of communication, no radios in those days.
It was a cold winter's night and a strong wind was blowing from the North. It was a converted three story twin dwelling that was now comprised of six apartments. Apparently the man who rented the third floor Painted his apartment and went away for the weekend. Oily rags, brushes and paints were stored in the closet. That is a no, no and sure enough spontaneous combustion took out the attic and third floor before we got there. As a standard procedure in our fire district a house firecalls for a second alarm. The second in company takes the backside of the facility on fire. As you would have it, the house faced South. The rear of the dwelling had a fire escape built on as required by law. The fire was encroaching the second floor front from above. I had ,laddered upto the porch roof with a Pompier Axe. there was a hose team with a charged 1 1/2 inch behind me but still on the ladder. The way that the windows were blackened and bulging, very hot with a red glow and smoke through every crack and seam of the clap board siding I knew that we were going to catch hell as soon as I opened that window. What I did not expect was the fact the second in company opened up the third floor before we were ready and that North Wind blowing in on the third floor, oh my! when I applied that Pompier Axe to open that second floor bedroom window, I caught window frame, flames, and blast and got blown off the roof over top of the hose crew. There I was laying in the hedges and Doctor Fox and others trying to pull me out. I was not injured but I was one shaken individual. Doctor Fox had me sit on the running board of the ladder truck drinking coffee and smoking my pipe until I stopped shaking.
Frank D. Harrisson
Fire Chief (Ret.)
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