Gary and Sally Dillon have been married for 31 years, but have known each other even longer than that.  They met at Waterbury’s Volunteer Fire Department.

“When we’re here, I’m a firefighter and he’s the fire chief and I don’t get any preferential treatment,” says Sally.  “In fact, he probably is harder on me.”

“Just to show you don’t get preferential treatment just because we’re family,” says Gary.

The Chief and Battalion Chief have deep family roots embedded within one of Vermont’s largest fire departments.

“One of our daughters is married to one of our officers on the team and his father’s on and it’s a big old oak tree of family,” says Chief Gary Dillon.

“Both our daughters are on the auxiliary too so, when there’s a big call they’re here preparing food,” says Battalion Chief sally Dillon.  “We’ve instilled in them the importance of giving back.”

In fact, the couple says giving back to their community is likely an even bigger part of what the station does. 

“When Rosina Wallace’s farm burned, we had a big fundraiser here,” says Sally.

She’s referring to the Wallace Farm, one of the most intense fires this department has ever responded to.  It happened on April 1 this year.  Rosina is a beloved dairy farmer in the Waterbury area, and has brought countless children to her farm, as a staple in agricultural education.  She lost everything and now lives in a trailer on her leveled land. 

Both Sally and Gary responded.

“We had just sat down to Easter dinner,” Gary says.  “We just didn’t have the water to stop this raging fire that was already raging before we got called.”

The 51-member team is one of Vermont’s largest volunteer stations, with 10 pieces of apparatus.  Despite it’s size, Gary says more man power is always needed.

“There are times when you think ‘wow, we really need more help, but we understand we’re also really fortunate that we can come together when the serious calls come in,” Gary adds.

It’s a frustration he can share though, with his significant other and co-worker, Sally.  A luxury, in fact, these two admit they’re fortunate to have.

“We have the luxury of going home and talking about it,” says Sally.  “I’m not the wife who’s angry that her husband is always at the fire station because I’m here too.”