On December 13th, the Willingboro Fire Department honored 42 year member David Andrade for his years of service to the department. David was the longest serving volunteer firefighter with the department. The ceremony was held at the Kennedy Center in front of many firefighters, family, and friends. During David's 42 years with the department, he held many leadership positions, and was responsible for many changes within the department. A few of them are highlighted below in the biography from the ceremony's program:
David joined the Willingboro Volunteer Fire Company in August 1976 and started his formal firefighter training immediately. He graduated with a Firefighter I certificate from the Burlington County Fire Academy, and throughout his 42 year fire service career, he continually maintained his active firefighter status. David served on, and was the chairman for, numerous committees which included apparatus replacement, major building renovations, and department expansions. In particular, the additional fire station that was located at Beverly-Rancocas Road and Garfield Drive, which was Station 163.
David has held every line officer position that could be attained in the Willingboro Fire Department - Lieutenant, Captain, 2nd Assistant Chief, 1st Assistant Chief, and ultimately Fire Chief. Throughout his tenure in the fire service, he continued his formal firefighting education and received dozens of certifications, which aided him in the performance of his firefighting, leadership, and command abilities. In fact, he was the first and only person to ever serve as Fire Chief, President of the Willingboro Volunteer Fire Company, and Chairperson of the Board of Fire Commissioners.
While serving as fire chief, David recognized the need for an underwater dive rescue team. He quickly assembled a consensues of all the members of the fire department, the fire company president, and town council, and then everyone pitched in to help create the Willingboro Dive Rescue Team. This dive team not only further helped the residents of Willingboro and Burlington County, but also served as an aid for retaining the volunteer personnel, and also boosted the recruitment efforts for the volunteers.
While serving as Chief, along with the Board of Fire Commissioners, he compiled, and then presented, the first comprehensive year-end written accountability report from the Fire Department directly to town council. This report contained details of every fire call and incident that the department handled during the year. This report included a breakdown of fire causes, locations, apparatus usage, personnel hours, injuries to emergency personnel, and all associated costs. Along with this year-end report, David included a study commissioned by the NFPA in 1975 which evaluated the need of Willingboro's fire service. That, coupled with a nationwide survey that he enrolled the fire department in, ranked the Willingboro Fire Department alongside many other departments - both volunteer and fully paid, throughout the nation. The results proved that a combination department (part paid and part volunteer) was long overdue. Later in the 80's, town council voted to start the hiring process for full-time firefighters. Fred Curtis and David were hired as the first provisional full-time firefighters in Willingboro Township.
As David retires, and relocates to his new home in Saint Petersburg, Fl, he will be leaving not only his public sector job, but also the fire service. Leaving his job will be easy - on the other hand, leaving the fire service is the most difficult thing that he's ever had to do.
The officers and members of the Willingboro Fire Department wish David well in his future endeavors. You will be missed by all of us.