Volunteer Hancock firefighter wins award for saving lives for over 50 years


WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — The Community Foundation of Washington County highlights work that individuals do to make a difference in Washington County. A volunteer firefighter in Hancock that has been risking his life for others for over 50 years.

Ira Moats, also known as Junior, says its that sound of a fire siren that still gives him the same feeling as it did when he started his career in 1964.

“I’ve been here for fifty five years, I have never joined any other fire company I’ve been here since the joints,” Moats said.

In his time at the Hancock Volunteer Fire Company, Junior has held many positions like assistant chief, house-man and board positions. Today, he serves as the fleet manager for the company’s apparatus and maintains the building and property.

“If the fire whistle blows, and you’re here the fire truck goes, so I have been driving firetrucks since I was 21 years old,” Moats said.

Although he no longer actively fights fires, Junior works hard to make sure the units are ready when needed. Officials from other Hancock departments say he is a dedicated volunteer and his efforts continue outside the fire house.

“Fundraising, community reduction efforts, as far as canvas for smoke detectors or talking to the public about safety in the community, he has done it all as long as I’ve known him,” Stephen Barnhart said, the Chief of Hancock Rescue Squad.

Junior says getting people to safety is his mission, no matter when or how long as it takes.

“If there was anyone in the house or anything like that safety is, and trying to save everything that you can with water. We had a big barn fire right in the valley in fact it’s my home place, and I stood beside this truck from six in the morning till six in the evening,” Junior said.

People that have worked with Ira for years say he is the “go-to guy” to get things done.

“In my opinion, he is a very good asset to this organization with the Hancock Fire Company. I wish that Hancock Rescue Squad had an individual like Junior Moats that could do the same kind of things. We are limited on manpower at our organization, but in my opinion, the Hancock Fire Company benefits greatly from the volunteer service that he does,” Barnhart said. Ira says fire companies in Washington County are always in need of volunteer help.

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