A firefighter is noting how his dad, who served in the same fire department, helped pave the way for him and others.
Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department Lt. Vernon “Ty” Corbin Jr. recently reflected on the moment, noting how his father, Vernon Corbin Sr., started in 1980 when only a handful of other Black firefighters were there.
“As I’ve gone around to different stations,…there was always, you know, someone saying how they…have deep respect for my dad and what he’s done,” he said. “And it just hit me, you know, ‘He’s done a lot more than I’m aware of and he’s never told me as a kid growing up.'”
Although Corbin Sr. retired after nearly three decades with the department and lives in Oxon Hill, Md., Corbin Jr. has continued to see his father’s legacy as he’s worked his own way up in the ranks.
These kinds of multigenerational firefighting households weren’t as common in the past, but now they’re becoming more prevalent, FCFRD spokesperson Bill Delaney said.
Corbin Jr. thought about firefighting but didn’t choose it as a career until later on. He started in the role in 2007 and soon heard about the difference his dad, an emergency medical services supervisor, made with other responders, such as helping others get promoted.
In a way, Corbin Jr., who is 35, experienced a similar benefit: He credits his ability to assess and communicate issues from when his dad would have him read news articles as a kid then summarize them back. He says that helped him get his first promotion to becoming a lieutenant in the county’s training academy to teach skills to incoming recruits.
“Other folks always said … he was very helpful. When he showed up on incident scenes, he was cool, calm and collected, which helped them be more calm in a situation,” Corbin Jr. said.
He’s now in charge of staffing across the county, involving 300-plus personnel assigned each day, and is based at Station 34 in Oakton.
Corbin Jr. has four kids, and they’ve also been able to see their dad at the station. Their mother also works for the department: Erin is a technician/paramedic, and her mom, Pam Leins, is also retired from FCFRD.
The couple’s oldest child — age 15 — has suggested he may continue the family tradition.
“He keeps telling my wife he wants to be a firefighter,” Corbin Jr. said. “Whatever they choose to do, I’d be behind them 100 percent.”
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