Every time the door opened at the Brazos County Precinct 3 Volunteer Fire Department, 69-year-old William Richard "Dick" Danes was there, coffee in hand, ready to work.
Fire Chief Gerald Burnett said Danes officially joined the department in October, though he'd been hanging around for a while prior to that, learning the ropes and getting to know the operations.
"Dick had a career goal at 69 years old to certify as an apparatus driver," Burnett said. "The sad part is he was really close to achieving that."
Danes died Thursday during a training exercise at TEEX Brayton Fire Training Field in College Station. Funeral arrangements are pending through Hillier Funeral Home in Bryan.
TEEX Communications Manager Will Welch said the agency is providing support for the Precinct 3 Department as well as to the TEEX staff who were on duty at the time. The Texas Engineering Extension Service is a state agency and part of the Texas A&M University system.
After Danes collapsed, Welch said, TEEX and Precinct 3 personnel conducted CPR on him and the field medic began treatment. The College Station Fire Department responded, and Danes was transported to College Station Medical Center via an Advanced Life Support EMS unit.
Burnett said Danes was thought to be in good health.
"He was very much about doing his job and doing it right and taking it seriously. His family really supported that, and that was important," Burnett said.
A retired engineer, Danes was a Texas A&M graduate, an Air Force Reserve veteran, a radio operator, active in local citizens police and fire academies, belonged to a church and was a grandfather," Burnett said.
"He was just a really nice guy," said Burnett, who has been with the department since 1998.
The volunteer fire department consists of 40 people, Burnett said, 20 of whom are fully certified at the highest level.
The department has only had one other active member unexpectedly die. Assistant Chief Mike Terry died in 2001 in a motor vehicle accident, he said.
Danes had a wide circle of friends throughout the community and will be greatly missed, he said.
"As soon as you did anything, ask him a question, or tease him, he'd smile," Burnett said, while pointing out the chair Danes sat in each day. "If it made him mad, he'd smile bigger. He wouldn't say anything. He'd move on and wouldn't have anything negative to say. He was such a positive guy."
Copyright 2012 - The Eagle, Bryan, Texas
McClatchy-Tribune News Service