Bill Dougan followed in his father’s footsteps and now his son is following in his.
Dougan, a firefighter/paramedic at Midway Fire Rescue, is hoping his youngest son, Andy, will be joining the department when he graduates from the S.C. Fire Academy. Andy already volunteers at Midway.
“For my son to come on this department with me, that would be incredibly awesome,” Dougan said. “I think I would really enjoy working with my son.”
Dougan, 48, was born in Newark, New Jersey, raised in Kearny, New Jersey, and graduated from Kearny High School.
His father was a career firefighter, his mother is a nurse, his older brother is a retired police officer, and his older sister used to be an EMT.
“My family has always been in the public safety business,” Dougan said.
Dougan began his firefighting career as a volunteer at Pinewood Estates in Barnegat, New Jersey. The department had one station and only handled about 100 calls a year, about half of which were traffic accidents.
“That was actually a good experience because what they did there was, to make up for the experience of the calls, they made up for it in training,” Dougan said.
Dougan also worked as a seasonal firefighter/EMT from April through October for the Cape May (New Jersey) Fire Dept. for five years and taught EMT classes at a community college.
Dougan and his wife, Carolyn, vacationed on the Grand Strand when their sons were young, and their oldest, Michael, attended Coastal Carolina University. They decided to stay in the area after he graduated.
Once Michael was here, Andy decided that he wanted to move here, so Dougan took a job at Midway in January 2013.
“I got to the point where I was able to retire from my job in New Jersey, so I retired, collected my pension and health benefits and moved down here,” Dougan said.
Carolyn and Andy followed in June after Andy graduated from high school. Carolyn is now a nurse at Waccamaw Community Hospital.
Dougan doesn’t have one best firefighting experience. He just loves working at Midway.
“It’s the training and camaraderie with the guys here,” he said. “After you get off probation … the camaraderie here comes out.”
Dougan was moving furniture recently and two of his co-workers showed up with their pickup trucks to lend a hand.
His worst experiences are any really busy days.
“A busy day where it’s difficult to keep up with your paperwork, difficult to keep up with keeping your truck stocked and clean, (or) a 24-hour shift where you’re just busy the entire shift,” he said. “In the summertime, that’s just the way it gets. It gets busy here.”
Dougan’s not sure how long he’ll continue to be an active firefighter, but even when he stops, he’d still like to be involved with the department.
“I would like to continue teaching and work as a firefighter for as long as I can,” he said. “I enjoy working with the younger guys. I enjoy working with the newer guys. I enjoy showing them, teaching them. So even if I were not to be an active firefighter anymore, I would still like to come around and do that.”
The Dougans live off Highway 707 near Socastee, right around the corner from Michael and his wife, Janeva, and their 10-week-old son, Thomas.
In his spare time, Dougan likes to relax in his backyard with his wife, go to the beach or to see local bands, and take care of his house and Michael’s.
The Dougans also like to travel and are planning a trip to New Orleans.
Dougan has completed about 90 college credits, and one of his goals is to eventually earn his bachelor’s degree.
When his sons were young, Dougan coached Michael’s teams, but never Andy’s. “I coached (Michael) in basketball and I would love to coach Andy in the fire service,” he said.
South Strand News