by Lynnette Esse
Ron Beard got his nickname from a previous Fire Lieutenant who needed to differentiate him from another Ron when she was helping with scheduling, and the nickname stuck. Ron’s role at Little Fork Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company is multi-faceted. He is one of three Fire Lieutenants. (There is also a Rescue Lieutenant and one fire Captain.)
Ron is on duty at the station on Wednesday nights, on call from 6:00 p.m. until about 2:00 a.m. He also pulls some weekends and fills in where needed, especially when the calls involve horse rescues. Horses are near and dear to his heart.
The Fire Lieutenant is in charge in the Chief’s absence. He serves as the EMS driver in the event of an EMS call, or rides in the fire engine in the officer’s seat, in the event of a fire call.
Many of Ron’s evenings are devoted to his role as Vice President of LFVFRC, attending various meetings, such as the Culpeper County Fire and Rescue Association meetings each month (in Chief Doug Monaco’s absence), the County Budget and Finance Committee meetings, the Administrative Committee meetings every other month, the Little Fork board meeting once a month, or the General Membership meeting once a month. He said, “I attend almost as many meetings as the Chief!”
Ron’s wife, Amy, knew what she was getting into when they married in 2002. She understood and accepted that Ron’s volunteer work was part of the package. Ron commented, “Once you start doing it, it is hard to give up. Helping the community makes me feel good. It also set a good example for the kids as they were growing up.”
Having moved to Culpeper in 2001, Ron and his wife have a 17-acre horse farm near Emerald Hill Elementary School, just a few miles down the road from the station. They breed and sell Dutch Warmbloods and Hanoverian horse breeds, competitive and recreational horses that are known for the major international equestrian disciplines of dressage, jumping, 3-day event, and driving. Ron admits that “Amy is the horse person and I am just the manual labor.” At one point they had 24 horses; now they are down to just 11. They are all older now.
Ron and Amy met at their “real jobs” at the Navy Federal Credit Union headquarters in Vienna. Ron, a Business Systems Analyst, has been working there for 27 years. They enjoy commuting together three days a week, while Amy has the luxury of working from home the other two days.
Initially, Ron’s exposure to volunteering for a fire department began when he was in his early 20’s. After hearing about the high degree of camaraderie and the tight knit family atmosphere, he started volunteering at a large, very busy station in Sterling, Virginia. He recalls, “In the beginning I loved the adrenaline rush, but the novelty wore off. Now I am happy when there are no calls and I get to sleep during my shift. It’s harder to get up the next morning and go to work, the older I get.”
Ron’s three grown children, who have all volunteered at Little Fork in the past, are now on their own. His oldest daughter, Jordan, lives and works in the Norfolk area. Son, Aaron, is a student at Northern Virginia Community College, and his youngest, Justin, recently joined the U.S. Marine Corps.
Chief Monaco commented, “Ron has proven to be a great asset for the Company, and the community, as he has the time to fulfill the duties of Vice President during the absence of the President. The administrative functions of our type of organization are sometimes overlooked, but they are essential for operational readiness. The administrative section provides funds and takes care of the paperwork that is required by the Company, County, and State and Federal agencies. They are essential for the purpose of a check and balance system within the organization, overseeing funds, grant work and administrative processes. We are happy to have Ron on our team and appreciate everything that he does!”