Richard Halpin: Life of a firefighter

Richard Halpin (Our York Media)

He stops and catches his breath as the emotion wells up in his throat. Richard Halpin can remember the pride on his father’s face when he placed the badge of not only assistant but deputy fire chief onto his son’s uniform. 

But when William Halpin passed away in 2008, it meant the honor to pass the deputy fire chief badge to the youngest Halpin boy, Greg, would fall to Richard. 

“It should have been something my father did,” Richard says. “It was an honor to do it for him. He was proud of his boys.” 

All four of William’s sons entered the fire service, despite his efforts to talk them out of it. For Richard, the fire service was a place where he found the brotherhood he so desperately needed after leaving the military. 

“I just always wanted to help people. I only live 3 ½ miles away, so I can still help these guys when they need me.”

In the 1970s, Richard came home from Vietnam and hid his Army uniform.  

With two Bronze Star awards and a Purple Heart — now proudly displayed on his office wall — Richard didn’t find the respect so many military members are greeted with today. 

He went to work in Pantry Pride as a grocery clerk, but stocking shelves didn’t live up to the excitement he had grown accustomed to in life. 

The life his father lived, a firefighter of 36 years with York Fire/Rescue Services, seemed appealing.  

Richard’s lengthy career saw numerous homes lost and saved, left him with a heart attack in 1999, and led him to pass on the passion of fire service to countless men and women through the fire school. 

After 45 years in the fire service – seven of those as an administrator with the York County Fire School – Richard will finally be putting the gear away for good. His retirement party is Feb. 2. 

“I just always wanted to help people,” Richard says. “I only live 3 ½ miles away, so I can still help these guys when they need me. I don’t think they’ll get rid of me that easily.” 

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