Jan. 23--MIDDLETOWN -- Two years after Stefan Thomas Nalborczyk joined the Middletown Volunteer Fire Co., he was called to his first fatality -- a vehicle crash at Green Bridge in which a young child died.
That experience in 1966, the first of many fatalities, rattled him, said Nalborczyk, who is marking his 50th year with the fire company.
For some firefighters and emergency medical technicians, encountering death on the job is so traumatic that they leave for other work, Nalborczyk said.
This veteran EMT kept his volunteer job, but worked full time for 22 years delivering furniture for Gladhill Furniture and Duron Furniture Co., and delivering soft drinks to stores.
"I'm always on the ambulance," Nalborczyk said. "I never did the fire side a lot. I enjoy helping others. For 25 years, I was a top responder. It's about helping people you live around."
Not everybody is cut out for firefighting or emergency medical work, Nalborczyk said.
Some people join and stay for a few years, then leave when they find out it's not what they want to do, he said.
Firefighting is not a bad career, Nalborczyk said.
"You can go from becoming a volunteer firefighter to getting paid," he said. "We're cross-trained as firefighters and EMTs."
Nalborczyk, 69, was born in Germany. His parents came to the United States as displaced people and settled in Charles County.
Nalborczyk and his wife, Janie, moved to Middletown in 1963. He became a U.S. citizen in 1968.
The couple have lived in a house next to the Middletown Fire Co. for 48 years, which makes responding to a call quick, he said.
Their children tried not to get run over as he dashed out of the house, Janie Nalborczyk said.
Firefighting has been contagious in the family.
Nalborczyk's son Steve is fire chief at the Wolfsville Fire Co. Grandson Benjamin is chief at the New Market Fire Co., and his youngest son, David, is an assistant chief at Brunswick Ambulance Co. and a volunteer firefighter.
Steve Nalborczyk said his dad was a stickler for perfection.
"He always wanted stuff to be done right, and that's in all aspects of his life," Steve Nalborczyk said.
And he helped establish the Myersville ambulance service, Janie Nalborczyk said.
Janie Nalborczyk joined the fire service in 1974 as an EMT when membership was open to women, and she is marking her 36th year with the company.
"I'm not ready to give it up yet," Janie Nalborczyk said.
And neither is her husband.
"I like it even though I lost all kinds of sleep over the years," Stefan Nalborczyk said. "It's all about helping neighbors, and that's why I enjoy it and still doing it 50 years later."
The Middletown Fire Co. will recognize Nalborczyk for his 50 years of service Feb. 1 during its annual banquet at the fire company's new activity building at 403 Fireman's Way in Middletown.
The Nalborczyks have 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
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