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Meet Our Crew: Firefighter James Duley

A T-shirt inspired James Duley to become a firefighter.

Duley saw a man wearing a shirt with a Maltese cross on it. The Maltese cross is a symbol of the courage of firefighters, and dates back hundreds of years.

“I said it was pretty cool and how do I get one,” Duley said.

You have to become a firefighter, the man told Duley, and 17 years ago Duley did just that.

Duley, 36, became a volunteer firefighter in 1997 after graduating from Canfield (Ohio) High School. He eventually became a paid firefighter and in 2005 he moved to Goose Creek.

Two years ago he joined Midway Fire Rescue, where he is a firefighter I.

Duley is trained for high angle and ropes rescues and used to be an industrial firefighter at U.S. Steel.

“It’s a lot more hazardous environment,” Duley said. “Things can explode there more easily than at a house fire. … The traumas there were a little bit more unique. .. What you’re dealing with is 3,000-degree molten steel.”

His best experience as a firefighter was with an elderly widow in Ohio. He had also been on the call when her husband died, and this time they had to transport her to the hospital. Afterward, her family was extremely grateful

“Just the compassion that I had supposedly gave to her, her family came back the next day and said ‘you did a tremendous job. You just made her feel really, really comfortable, and thank you very much for taking care of her the way you did,’” Duley said, adding that he didn’t realize he had that big of an impact.

His worst experience was on a call where a child died.

“It was really hard to deal with,” Duley said.

The next step in Duley’s career is to become a firefighter II, which requires being able to drive all the apparatus and become a hazmat tech. He’s completed the driver training.

Duley’s professional goal is to try to advance as far as he can in the fire service, with an eye toward fire inspections and investigations.

“I am fascinated by that,” he said. “I’ve been riding a fire truck for almost 17 years and to do the investigations of a fire, determining the origin or cause, that’s something that’s always intrigued me.”

Duley is single and recently purchased his first house.

He enjoys riding four-wheelers, hunting, golfing, snow skiing and watching Ohio State University and Cleveland Browns football.

His personal goal?

“Try to live a happy life and just enjoy it to its fullest.”

Chris Sokoloski

South Strand News

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