by Lynnette EsseRalph Monaco, Jr. has never lived in a home that didn’t have a fire monitor, or scanner, on at all times. At the age of three he began hanging out with his father and older brother, Doug, at the Centreville Volunteer Fire Department, where his dad, Ralph, Sr., was Chief for 15 years. In 1974, at the age of 16, Ralph, Jr. became a junior member, launching a lifetime of service to his community.
Now, some 41 years later, Ralph serves as Captain for Little Fork Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company, where his brother, Doug, is Chief. In the Chief and Deputy Chief’s absence, Ralph is the man in charge. As a Firefighter Officer II, he runs both fire and EMS calls, driving everything from the ambulance to the fire engine.
He is on call every Thursday night from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. In the early part of the evening he and his crew work on the equipment and go through training exercises. After 11:00 p.m. he responds from home. He also responds any day of the week, even when he is not on call, if there is more than one call at a time, and he is needed. Some nights he gets a good night’s sleep, others he coasts by on just a few hours, but he says he is used to it. Of course, he loves the adrenaline rush, but even more importantly he says, “I like knowing that I am helping people.”
Ralph is also one of two “at large” members of the Little Fork Board of Directors. The Board meets monthly to work out administrative issues such as budget items, disciplinary actions, etc.
Chief Doug Monaco commented, “Ralph sets a positive example for our entire Company. He strives to do a quality job within all avenues of the fire and rescue field. He has been an active firefighter for many years and has worked on several committees. Ralph is also “well balanced” and can see the entire picture due to past administrative positions he has held, as well as his tenure in fire and rescue. Our community is fortunate to have Ralph assist the Company, especially due to his knowledge of current business practices and his professional contacts, both of which are necessary components needed for survival in volunteer fire and rescue companies today.”
Back in the 1980s, Ralph began his career with an eight-year venture as a paid firefighter with the Federal Government, while selling real estate on the side. He just plain liked helping people! Eventually he made the decision to switch his priorities, becoming a full time real estate agent and a volunteer firefighter on the side.
Growing up in his father’s heating and air conditioning business, specializing in new home installations, Ralph gained knowledge and insight about construction and housing as he worked for his dad through his late twenties. A career in real estate was a perfect fit for him. After taking the initial real estate course in 1986, Ralph became an agent with Better Homes Realty Company.
He now has his broker’s license and has been an Associate Broker with Re/Max Regency for over 20 years, specializing in residential and land sales primarily in Fauquier, Culpeper, and Rappahannock Counties.
Most of Ralph’s clients are repeat customers or referrals. He is committed to providing exemplary service because, as he put it, “Your reputation is everything!” His office is on Holiday Court in Warrenton. Ralph loves his work and has no plans to retire any time soon.
He and his wife, Jody, enjoy the privacy of their 37 acres along the Hazel River in Rixeyville. He first got to know Jody when she joined the Centreville VFD. After dating for several years, the two were married in 1978. Jody now works in accounts payable for TLC Services, an HVAC contractor in Warrenton.
The couple’s older daughter, Melissa, is the office manager for the same company. Both are supporting members at Little Fork, helping with fundraising efforts, and both have served as Treasurer in the past. Their younger daughter, Kimberly, who lives in Warrenton, is a budget analysist for the Federal Government. She is not a member of Little Fork but has helped with fundraising for Little Fork in the past.
Prior to coming to Little Fork in 2012, Ralph served as a volunteer at Warrenton Volunteer Fire Company for over 30 years, and is now a life member, but Little Fork is closer to home. He comments, “Little Fork is a great group of people. It is still small, so everybody knows everybody else. They help each other out and would do anything for you.”
“Giving back to our community is what our country is all about,” Ralph added.