For five decades Howard Barraclough Sr. has been answering the call of service for the Attica Fire Department. During a recent dinner to mark the milestone, family, friends and fellow firefighters gathered at The Lodge at Hidden Valley Animal Adventure, Royce Road, Varysburg.
When Barraclough first began fighting fires, he wasn’t even a member of a department yet.
“At the time I hauled can milk, so I knew all the farmers,” Barraclough said. “If a fire happened, I’d help. I caught hell going to a fire without being a fireman, so I joined.”
When he first joined the department, there was a waiting list and becoming a member was as simple as receiving the nod, via three white balls.
“If a black ball was in the mix, you’d be rejected, but I got right in,” he said. “I was a truck driver, so I took to it easy.”
Barraclough started coming up through the ranks in the 1970s. He has served as chief, assistant chief, president, secretary and trustee. The only position he has yet to occupy is the treasurer’s job. He has served on numerous fund-raising and truck purchasing committees. He led the efforts to buy the first set of jaws (victim extraction tools) and he was the chief when the department started offering ambulance service.
He was the driving force to get the department’s first tanker truck – which, with the help of Don Melvin, dragged it back from Watertown, says Attica Fire Department President George Diehl – and the first rescue sled and the first grass truck.
“I am sure that one of he proudest accomplishments was the restoration of #3, a 1937 Mack, and the building of Station 2 and the firemen’s pavilion at the park,” Diehl said.
Barraclough will be 82 in July and still goes to all the meetings and looks forward to being the Grand Marshal for the Wyoming County Fair’s parade in Pike.
“Howard has done many great things for the department over the years,” Diehl said. “I am proud to be a part of this and would like to thank him for all his wonderful service.”
While Barraclough may slow down a bit in responding, being a part of the fire department is a family experience. His wife and daughter belong in the Ladies Auxiliary, he has a daughter in the rescue squad and his son is a fireman.
“Outside of all the heartaches, we had a lot of fun,” Barraclough said. “The carnivals and parades… It's all in how you make it. If you want to have fun, you will.”