Exmore Honors A Life of Service: Community Fire Chief Greg DeYoung
Updated: Jun 8
(L to R) Mayor Greer, Vice Mayor Thomas Lewis, GREG DEYOUNG, councilman Chase Sturgis
At the May 2023 Town Council Meeting, Exmore Mayor Douglas Greer and council members presented Fire Chief Gregory (Greg) DeYoung with a Certificate of Appreciation honoring his many years of service to the Northampton County and Exmore communities. It was exceptionally well deserved. Chief Greg DeYoung has held leadership positions in firefighting and emergency medical services for Exmore's Community Fire Company for thirty-nine years.
DeYoung first signed on with the fire department in 1985, at the age of eighteen, the minimum age for volunteering at the time. He admits he had been "chomping at the bit" since sixteen. He always knew public safety was his calling and even considered becoming a police officer. But, the sight of fire trucks, lights flashing and sirens blaring, excited him. He was hooked by firefighting.
In those earlier days, a firefighter's gear consisted only of 3/4 rubber boots and a heavy black coat. The trucks were less sophisticated, with high-pressure reels on the engines. In fact, the first time DeYoung handled a hose (at a fire in Belle Haven), the pressure knocked him backward, to the amusement of others at the scene.
A defining moment came when DeYoung was returning to Exmore after picking up the area's first Automated External Deflagrator, or AED, In transit, he received a check call reporting a cardiac arrest at the old Coke-a-Cola plant on Main Street, where his aunt worked. On arriving, he discovered that the cardiac arrest victim was his uncle. He immediately put the new AED to work, and within 30 seconds, his uncle's life was restored. The profound gratification in saving a life convinced DeYoung to focus more on the EMS side of community service. Although shifts with EMS were part of the fire department's regular duties, DeYoung now saw EMS as compelling primary work. "With EMS, you can make a direct, positive impact on someone's life." This is a message he conveys when training young people entering the field on their way to professional certification. "Firefighting is great. It can even be fun," he says. "But EMS can be joyful."
Now, after serving in numerous leadership capacities within the area of public safety, including Ambulance Captain, instructor and as the department's Fire Chief from 1998 to the present, Chief Gegory DeYoung is assuming a new position serving the community. He will, however, continue as an active volunteer firefighter and paramedic here in Exmore. And he will continue to inspire and serve as a role model for others, and specifically for young people entering this field.
Note: When Greg was 16, Junior Memberships for firefighters did not yet exist. Today, young people, ages 16-18, interested in becoming firefighters can participate, learn and safely train beside seasoned pros. Junior Memberships are an excellent way to develop a pipeline of new members for the team. Anyone interested in more information is encouraged to contact their local Community Fire Department.
Note 2: Vice-Mayor Thomas Lewis and Council member Chase Sturgis are both volunteers with the Community Fire Department here in Exmore.