William “Shane” Kingsford has settled into a second career as a firefighter after 20 years in the Marine Corps.
He said the two careers are a “good fit.”
“The Marines is a job where day-to-day you’re not sure what’s going to be going on in the world and you’re there to respond,” Kingsford said. “It’s a global aspect to it as opposed to a community … aspect.”
Kingsford, 50, is a firefighter II/EMT with Midway Fire Rescue.
Growing up the son of a Marine, he moved frequently, living in places such as Camp Lejune and Camp Pendleton, before graduating from high school in Independence, Kan., where his dad was on recruiting duty.
He joined the Marines in 1980 when he was at 17 and spent 14 years in aviation, including as an ejection seat mechanic.
His last six years in the Corps were spent on embassy duty in Africa, the Caribbean and Europe. At one point he was a detachment commander.
In 2001, after two decades, he decided to retire.
“Twenty years felt like a good time to move on and try something different,” Kingsford said.
He became a volunteer firefighter in Texas and got his EMT training at a community college.
“I knew I didn’t want to ride ambulances,” he said. “I was still a little bit more aggressive than a simple medic or EMT.”
He also worked as a train crewman, but “it was brief and I realized it wasn’t the long-term way to go.”
Kingsford moved to the Grand Strand area in 2004, and after completing Horry County’s Fire Academy, was hired by Midway.
After moving to Hagley in 2007, he felt more connected to the community.
“It’s an overall satisfaction knowing I’m here to help the community where I live,” he said. “That kind of sealed it a little bit more when I did move here. I guess that’s the aspect of doing the work every day.”
Kingsford is trained for Hazmat operations, rope rescues and can drive all the apparatuses Midway has.
He loves Pawleys and working at Midway.
“It’s an easy place to come in and find your place and stay,” he said.
His professional goals include continuing to develop as a firefighter.
“I don’t feel like anybody is ever an expert at anything, so for me it’s day-to-day,” Kingsford said. “I learn from some of the young probationary guys who just come out of the academy new techniques and keep myself safe as well as them and don’t become a burden.”
Kingsford is divorced, and has been in a relationship with Jessica for four years, helping raise her 14-year-old son, Alex Whipkey.
“[He’s like] a son to me now after all these years,” Kingsford said. “I’ve enjoyed it.”
There are also a beagle/bassett hound mix and long-haired Dachshund in the family.
He and his father are not the only veterans in his family. His two brothers served and his sister married an Air Force man.
Kingsford has a big decision coming up in less than five years, whether to retire for the second time at age 55.
“It depends on my health and fitness level,” he said.
If he does, he said he might want to “slow down” a little and find a job at an outdoors shop, since he enjoys kayaking, running on the beach and “being outdoors.”
His advice to someone thinking about becoming a firefighter?
“If you mentally know you’re going to have stressful days and you can put them in a place where you know they’re there but they don’t drag you down, that’s a good attitude to have about,” he said.
Story by South Strand News
Written By Chris Sokoloski (email@example.com)