Name: Jim Wagner
Hometown: Lower Macungie Township
Family: Jim and his wife, Donna, have been married for 46 years. They have a daughter, Nicole and a 14-month-old grandson, Mason.
Occupation: “I am retired after working 41 years at Mack Trucks. I now work part-time at the Lower Macungie Township recycling center so I can pay for my golf balls!”
Fire Company: He has been with Lower Macungie Fire Department since 1968 — that's 44 years.
Training: “When I started here, there was no training. You were given boots, a hat and a coat and just showed up at calls. You learned as you went. But now it’s different. Training is a must. There’s so much more to know than fighting a fire.”
Describe your job with the fire company. “Over the years, I was the chief for five of them. I have also been the assistant chief. Currently, I am treasurer of the fire department and an engineer. I love being here.”
Why did you choose to become a firefighter? “They needed people at the fire company and former chief Allen McNabb ‘volunteered’ me. But I enjoy it.”
How do your loved ones feel about you putting your life in danger? “We very seldom hear of a bad situation between firefighters and their spouses. Although, wives do get rather annoyed when dinner is ready and the alarm goes off.”
Tell us a story you'll never forget about your firefighting experience. “We were headed into the city of Allentown for the Neuweiler Brewery Fire. I don’t recall the year. On the way there, we hit a car that ran a red light. Thankfully, no one was hurt. We called in to report the accident, and since no one was hurt, we continued on to the fire.
“The police came to the scene of the fire to get our report. It turned out that I forgot my wallet in the haste of leaving my house, so at 3 a.m. someone from the fire station went to my house to get my driver’s license. The police needed to see it and I couldn’t drive the fire truck without it. When my wife answered the door, she didn’t understand why the person needed my license. She went to the bedroom to get me and realized I wasn’t there. She never heard me leave for the fire.”
What is it that keeps you coming back? “It gets in your blood. I find volunteer firefighting to be a unique situation. No one gets paid, but people still do it. It’s a lot of work and training to be a firefighter, but when that alarm goes off, they are here to help someone in need.”
What would you tell people interested in joining your fire company? “Come on down. You’ll get a good education in training and we have a good group of people here to work with. We’re like one big family.”