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This month’s Homegrown Hero is Deputy Chief Henry Richard of the Harrison Fire Department. We caught up with him to know his story about his career and how his working routine has changed since the pandemic started. We thank Henry for all his efforts and for inspiring our club with his acts. This year’s initiative includes giving $1,000 to a charity of our Homegrown Hero’s choice, and for this month, Henry selected St. Jude’s Children Hospital.

Tell me about your career and what inspires you every day?

My career has spanned just over 26 years, and I ‘m currently Deputy Chief of the Harrison FD. What inspires me every day is the opportunity to assist those in need and provide a feeling of safety to the Harrison community, but what inspires me most is to be a positive role model for my wife, children and the people around me - to set your goals and put in the work towards accomplishing them.

How much have your job duties changed since the pandemic started?

Prior to the pandemic we were scheduling training to prepare our members for the emergencies we may be responding to - many of which would be fires or EMS calls.  

When the pandemic hit our area, the focus quickly shifted - get and do everything possible to protect the firefighters and community, as well as all our members’ families. Getting the information about an invisible enemy and making it a priority to be able to communicate that information to all our members and the public. Keeping in contact with our county health officer sometimes two to three times a day to stay updated with information and keep everyone safe. Our duties now extended not only within the firehouse but outside the firehouse and into the homes of the community and the families of our firefighters.

What’s the biggest lesson/s you’ve learned during this time period?

What were my biggest lessons during the pandemic, there were so many lessons throughout, but I think the biggest for me was awareness: being aware of COVID, aware of how it affected everyone, aware of what we touch and how we clean, aware that everyone handled COVID differently, aware of the stress levels it was causing not only for firefighters but our families as well, aware that at any given moment we may have to say goodbye to someone we care about.  Awareness is my biggest lesson.

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