Eau Claire County (WQOW) – While all of our Jefferson Award winners work to better their communities, this month’s recipient has made it his job to help his community when disaster strikes.
For 45 years, Jack Running has volunteered at the Township Fire Department – the last 21 years as fire chief.
Since an early age, Running knew he wanted to give back
"I grew up in a farm family back up around Cameron and up there it was always help your neighbor," Running said. "So, that was probably the interest, just trying to help the neighbors out."
So at 25, despite working more than 40 hours a week at a local phone company, Running decided to spend even more time keeping his community safe
"I like the busyness of it. I like being involved," he said.
Running has spent 20-30 hours a week, for the past 45 years, volunteering for the Township Fire Department.
"It’s just in your blood," Running said. "Once you get started with it, it’s just hard to shake it."
Running oversees five stations, more than 30 vehicles and the training and management of more than 100 volunteer firefighters.
"Personally, if there was never another fire call, I would be happy because you know nobody is being hurt, but that’s not going to happen," Running said. "So, the training is the same as the career department. Fire doesn’t know the difference, so you need to be trained to the same standards.
Running was more than a volunteer. He also shaped what Township fire is today. In 1980, he started EMERGICARE – a first response organization that covers more than 200 square miles in the five townships.
"Last year the calls that we had were just a little over a 1,000 calls," he said.
On top of all of that, Running has also taught fire training at local tech colleges. He was also the president of the Wisconsin Fire Chief’s Association from 2004-2005 and is currently the co-chair of the Wisconsin Technical College System Fire Service Advisory Committee.
"It just gives you a good feeling," Running said. "If you like to help your neighbor, and like to do things for your community, this is one good way to do it.
Running is now officially retired from his day-time job, but he has no plans to stop leading the department.
"I was proud of what I did, and still proud of what I do," Running said. "I enjoy what I do and I want to do it as long as I can. I think that keeps me going."
Running is quick to point out that it is a team effort at Township fire, and nobody can accomplish anything alone.
Township fire is always looking for volunteers. If you want to join, click here.