Volunteer Profile: Deidre Perron

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Deidre Perron

When asked how long she’s been a firefighter with the Ritchot Fire Department, Deidre Perron just thinks about how old her youngest child is. That’s because she decided to become a volunteer firefighter while she was on maternity leave. With two school-aged children and a baby, she said, “You know, I’ll try this out and if it’s not for me, when I go back to work I just won’t continue.” 

Fourteen years later, Perron is still a dedicated firefighter. 

Speaking with her, it’s clear that Perron is passionate about helping others. “It’s important to know that there are people who are willing to get up in the dead of night to go help someone,” she says. 

The 47-year-old doesn’t think this is a heroic thing to do, though.

“I don’t ever like to use the word hero,” she says. “Because that’s not why we’re there. We’re there to help… If someone fell down in front of you, you’d help them up, and firefighting is just taking that to the next level.”  

The fact that the “next level” from helping someone who has slipped sometimes is running into a burning building doesn’t faze her. In fact, Perron says that some of the most challenging moments as a firefighter aren’t the highly dangerous situations others may imagine. Sometimes the challenge is to be on the periphery of the “hot zone.”

“Being the guy who is directing traffic around a collision, where you can’t see what’s happening and you feel like you aren’t being useful, that’s a challenge,” she explains, especially since most firefighters join because they want to offer hands-on assistance. “But everybody has an important role.”

The department, which is celebrating its fiftieth year of existence, feels like Perron is second family. It’s cliché, she says, but absolutely true.

“If you’re going to go in and potentially risk your life, there has to be a lot of trust between you and the people who have your back,” she says, adding that it’s a very large and diverse family. “We have some career firefighters and paramedics, teachers, lawyers, electricians, and we all get alonwg great.”

Perron herself works in security for her day job, and has been a First Aid & CPR instructor since before she became a volunteer firefighter.

As for her actual family, they have always been supportive, for which she is very thankful. “My husband, when I said I wanted to do this and we had a newborn baby at home, he said, ‘Okay!’ and was so great.”

As for her kids? When she joined the force, her two oldest kids were school-aged.

“They thought that was pretty cool to say, ‘Hey, my mom’s a firefighter!’” 

Her kids are part of why she keeps answering the calls for help after a long day’s work or in the middle of the night. “I always have that little flip in my stomach when I get a call, and I think about where my kids are… But whoever needs help, that’s someone’s child, and I want to help them.”

Not for a moment in 14 years has Perron wavered in her dedication to helping others. 

“I can truly say that I haven’t had an experience yet that has caused me to question why I’m doing this.”

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