Hillsboro's Best firefighter: Ron Morgan
Editor's Note: This story first appeared in our Hillsboro's Best special section. Every year, the Tribune solicits feedback from the public for our annual Hillsboro's Best awards.
As a kid growing up in Washington County, firefighting was the only thing Ron Morgan ever wanted to do.
After getting two degrees — one in fire science and a paramedic's degree — at Chemeketa Community College, the 37-year-old Hillsboro resident is now an accomplished firefighter and paramedic with Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, where he has worked for the past 12 years.
The best thing about it? "I get to serve and work in the communities I grew up in," said Morgan. "The places where my grandpa lived, I get to watch those grow, and change, and be a part of the community where he lived. I've lived in Washington County my entire life."
Morgan also serves the firefighting community as secretary of the Tualatin Valley Firefighters Union, which includes Cornelius, Forest Grove, and Banks — and it's pretty much a full-time second job, he said.
Fire Lieutenant Scott Bethke has seen Morgan's dedication to the service in action long before he was hired by TVF&R. After long shifts as a paramedic for Metro West ambulance service, Morgan would volunteer and ride along all night with the TVF&R crews to learn all he could.
"He's very driven. We picked up on that right in the beginning," said Bethke. "He has passion for the job, and not just the fire stuff. He's a very sharp firefighter as well as an extremely sharp paramedic."A deep camaraderie comes with being a part of TVF&R as well as a diverse group of people and experiences on the job, said Morgan.
"We have a curriculum and a standard of things you do but so many things don't fall into the standard," he said. "It's constantly working in a grey area. Every day is different, no two days are the same, and no call is the same. It's just one thing to the next."
As a fire truck driver Morgan is responsible for making sure the vehicle is ready to go, but he's also trained in technical rescue. That means he could be up on a fiery roof, then performing chest compressions on a cardiac arrest call or down in a deep trench for hours giving medical care and rescue services to a worker stuck at the bottom.
On top of it all — and most importantly, he said — he's a husband and the father of two boys, ages 4 and 6.The hardest part of the job is spending 24 hours away from his family, he said. Firefighters work 24 hours on and 48 hours off, what amounts to about 51 hours per week.
"On our 48 hours off we're still dads and moms, parents and spouses, and boyfriends and girlfriends," said Morgan.
Totally dedicated to staying involved, he often visits his kid's preschool and kindergarten classrooms in full-on firefighter's garb, hoping to inspire and educate.
"I just love doing it. I try to be as active as I can in my kid's classes," Morgan said. "It's fun just to give them some exposure so they can see I'm just someone's dad. They can see that if there's ever a fire that the firefighters are there to help, so don't be afraid."
He's inspired the confidence of kindergarteners and his superiors, alike.
"I would say that if I were ever to have something to happen to one of my family members he would be the person I would want taking care of them," said Bethke.