A department is the reflection of the Chief. For 49-year-old Newmansville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Cameron Waters that reflection can be summed up in one word: family.
Waters’ volunteer firefighting career started in 1992, in Columbia Township Michigan, where he served through 2000, before moving over to Leoni Township for an additional five years with dual membership in Henrietta Township. Because of the decline in the Michigan automotive job sector, Waters moved his family to Florida in 2005, where he was an EMT for his employer. The final move was to Newmansville Volunteer Fire Department in 2008, where he has been a member ever since.
Firefighting was not his first choice, law enforcement was. It was not until riding on a call with a friend that he caught the fever.
“I sat in the truck and watched everything,” Waters said. “It was February of 1992, cold and snow on the ground. I went to Columbia and applied after that.”
Waters, like many firefighters, said once firefighting is in your blood you do not get it out. When the pager goes off it is time to help. It does not matter if you are sleeping or what you are doing, people need help 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Waters points out, “You are getting up to help somebody.”
Eventually, Waters became a Lieutenant at Newmansville and Chief in 2012. That is when the hard work comes in.
The burden of being Chief is heavy as your responsibility is to bring everyone home. For example, he felt stressed when department members took the brush truck to fires in Sevierville. He did not rest until they safely returned.
Dealing with membership issues can be difficult. Being the bad guy is also how Waters describes part of the job of being Chief. In the end, he hopes that people will see that he was willing to go above and beyond to help within his department, and the surrounding areas.
Spending any amount of time around the Newmansville station will leave you with a sense of family. Not the full I-have-not-seen-you-in-ages family reunion feeling, but in the casual, happy-to-see-you kind of way. Everyone seems to get along and outsiders are greeted and welcomed in.
This goes back to the reflection on Waters, who’s family members are firefighters as well. His wife, daughter, youngest son, and son-in-law are all firefighters. Several other members of the Newmansville department are husband and wife or parent and child as well. Waters also points out, “Hang (with) the right people, the right amount of time, family creates family.”
In addition to the family environment Waters is proud of the department not only still being here but moving forward through upgrades in equipment and new turnout gear, as well as new hose and nozzles.
For all the accomplishments, Waters gives credit to his wife. “She’s helped me tremendously. She helps me after calls, listens to what I’ve been through.”
It all comes back to that one word, family.