Firefighter Focus Friday: Captain William George

Captain George in front of Truck 17 in the bayCaptain William George exudes the stoic firmness reminiscent of your grandpa's favorite classic Western hero. He moves with deliberate intent, his words and actions consistently marked by fidelity. He comes from a strong line of firefighting— as he tells it, you can date the George family to the fire service industry back to 1935 and possibly earlier. His older brother was a firefighter, his younger brother currently serves with the Wilmington Fire Department, his father was a firefighter and his father before him was a firefighter. His presence commands respect, and his movements and words are always infused with a sense of purpose and integrity carrying a robust family legacy of firefighting that has been passionately upheld for almost a hundred years. 


In his 35 years at the forefront of fire service, Captain George has amassed a wealth of experience, blending the wisdom passed down from his father and forefathers with his own hard-earned insights. Each day, he views it as an opportunity to learn and evolve, facing each challenge with the grit and resolve that only comes from decades on the front lines. He's not just a firefighter; he's a craftsman of the trade, sculpting his skills and knowledge with every call and every lesson learned.


Captain George's dedication to his role is palpable in every aspect of his leadership. He insists on professionalism, punctuality, and meticulous preparation - the hallmarks of his command. His expectations are high because he knows the stakes are even higher. For him, truck check at 0700 isn't just a routine; it's a symbol of readiness and responsibility. He instills in his team the same confidence that he carries - a belief in the power of their training and their ability to make a difference when it matters most.


Despite the close bonds and camaraderie that naturally form in the fire service, Captain George never loses sight of the gravity of their work. The responsibility to serve and protect the community is paramount. He may have numerous friends within the department, but Captain George is known for his unwavering focus on duty. When he's on the clock, his dedication to the job is absolute, underscoring his deep-seated commitment to providing the best service to the citizens of New Hanover County. His deep love and sense of duty to his career in fire service is evident in the high expectations the Captain has for those in his company. It's this blend of heartfelt dedication and professional rigor that sets him apart. 


Like many within the fire service, his journey hasn't been without its emotional tolls. The challenges he's faced have tested his resilience, but they've also deepened his understanding and compassion. 


Throughout his career, Captain George has encountered a myriad of challenging situations, some so formidable that they might have discouraged less resolute individuals from continuing in this demanding profession. But the one that stays with him the most was far from the coastal community he serves— it came during a visit over 1200 miles away. It was there he felt a profound connection to the broader brotherhood of firefighters and encountered an experience that still moves him deeply today. "I remember various calls from my years”, recalls Captain George,  “What left the most profound impact on me was the visit to the Federal (Murrah) Building in Oklahoma City. Walking through the memorial, touring a local fire station and talking with fellow firefighters— It’s still hard for me to talk about that experience.”


George is not alone in that aspect, ask any firefighter and they will all have that moment or that call that sticks with them, it’s a miracle that after three decades there is only one. As he celebrates his 35th year in service, with 23 years at New Hanover County Fire Rescue, Captain George's approach remains understated yet impactful. He may shun the spotlight and the fanfare often associated with his role, but his presence is unmistakable. “Captain George initially comes across as quietly stoic, but as you get to know him, you'll uncover a deep well of knowledge and an unmatched passion for the fire service.” admits Battalion Chief J. Smith “His words may be sparse, but his actions resonate powerfully, speaking volumes about his dedication and expertise.” 


Captain George's career is more than a testament to his skill and dedication; it's a story of a man deeply rooted in the values of service, family, and community. His legacy is not just in the fires he's extinguished or the lives he's saved, but in the way he's upheld the honor and the tradition of the fire service, passing on a rich heritage to the next generation of firefighters.