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Serving public is Childs play

The Childs family bonds are those that bind and serve. Up until last week when Lt. Jerry Childs retired from 34 years of service at the Bremerton Fire Department, the family boasted three firemen and one sheriff’s deputy.

The firemen in the family are Jerry, Jerry’s brother Capt. Jeff Childs of the Bremerton Fire Department and Jerry’s son-in-law Logan Hammon who serves in Lynnwood. Jerry’s son, Justin Childs, serves as a Kitsap County sheriff’s deputy.

Jeff, Logan and Justin all say they were drawn into lives of service to others the same way: Jerry recruited them.

When Jerry talked about his work and coworkers, the other folk were just a tad jealous that Jerry had that strong a bond with his coworkers and loved his job as much as he did.

The first to follow Jerry’s footsteps was Jeff, who fell into public service about 23 years ago. Jeff was a weather forecaster in Hanford for about four years before he had a chance to meet a small group Jerry’s friends/ coworkers, he said. He was impressed by their friendship and decided he wanted that connection, too.

In 1980, Jeff took a civil service test for firefighters and before he knew it, he was hired by the Bremerton Fire Department, as well.

While the two served for the same fire department, Jerry worked at station one while Jeff worked at station three.

Hammon has been a firefighter for about four years. He started as a volunteer fireman in Kingston.

While the family members wouldn’t tell stories about each other, Hammon did confirm that there are some good stories to tell once the men start talking shop.

“It’s fun to hear them talk,” he said.

Justin, the lone law enforcement officer in the family, started his career with the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department in 2001.

He knew he, too, wanted to go into public service, but he “wanted to do something different.”

The other family members respect his decision to be a sheriff’s deputy and not a fireman.

“There’s no rivalry,” he said.

While the men are all proud of their jobs, there is one disadvantage to having so many family members in public service: because of the firefighter’s schedules — when firefighters are on duty, they eat and sleep at the fire station — the family has yet to spend the holidays together.

Now, with only two firefighter’s schedules and a sheriff deputy’s schedule to work around, they are optimistic this might be the year that changes.

When the family does spend time together, they like to go fishing, hunting and just relax.

Even from an outsider’s view, the family is a tight-knit one, Rappleye said.

“(Jerry and Jeff) are brothers who actually get along,” Rappleye said.

Aside from recruiting family members to serve, Jerry was a good firefighter who had a good sense about him, said Bremerton Fire Marshall Scott Rappleye.

Rappleye remembered that during the Kona Village fire of 1986, Jerry knew exactly what the firefighters had to do to put the fire out. The fire broke out on the fourth floor of the apartment complex, and Jerry said the firefighters had to get above the fire to fight it.

“He had it all planned out and it worked,” Rappleye said.

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