Bucks man can't help, helping others

April 25, 2008 8:38:06 PM PDT
When the fire alarm sounds in the middle of the night, 88-year-old John Doster of Bristol Township, Bucks County answers the call. And he's done it for almost 75 years. That's how long he's been volunteering with the Edgely Fire Company. It makes him the longest serving volunteer firefighter in Pennsylvania.

"People gotta learn how to get back to learning how to help people," Doster said. "Not fighting with them and this and that and the other thing ?help 'em if they need it."

John got the firefighting bug when he was just a boy. "(The) firehouse was just across from the school and when the whistle blew, the principal of the school would chase up out to go push the truck to get it started. And a couple times, we jumped on and went to the fire."

After fighting in World War II where he earned a purple heart, he returned home to his firefighting duties.

Doster rose through the ranks to fire chief, a title he held for 25 years, and is now with the company's fire police.

A bell from a Model T fire truck he used to ride, is one of the many mementos from his long career. John's house is filled with pictures, plaques and knickknacks from his 7 decades of service.

"You join them to help people," Doster said. "That's the way I look at it.

While he certainly earned the right to relax and take it easy, that's not what he wants to do. Doster says that as long as he can be of service, he wants to volunteer.

"Gotta keep busy. Why do I want to sit here all day and do nothing?"

His son John knows how important the volunteering work is to his dad. "If he had to stop tomorrow, I think, it would be the end of him."

Before Doster gets into his SUV with the red emergency lights on top he sums it up, "I'll still help people 'till the day I drop down."