Firefighter Focus Friday Captain Ben Ward
In the challenging realm of firefighting, only those with grit, determination, discipline, and tenacity thrive. Each day, the men and women in the fire service leave the comforts of home, ready to face towering infernos and bear the weight of their physical and emotional responsibilities. It's a calling that demands selfless dedication, far beyond the allure of glory or financial rewards—it's a commitment to service. Like many of you reading this, Captain Ben Ward answered the call.
Ben Ward embarked on his firefighting journey over 15 years ago, driven by a deep-seated desire to give back to his community. Raised in Georgia with a strong sense of service instilled in him from a young age, Ward initially pursued a career in construction. However, the 2008 recession prompted a shift, guiding him toward the fire services at the counsel of mentors, former teachers, and his mother. Starting as a volunteer firefighter in rural Colorado, Ward quickly immersed himself in the challenges, showcasing his determination and passion for the profession.
Ben Ward found himself wearing multiple hats in a community devoid of stoplights and situated 30 miles from the nearest gas station. By day, he worked as a ranch hand, navigating the rustic landscape. During his off hours, he selflessly devoted himself to serving the rural community, volunteering with the fire department. Ward vividly remembers taking the wheel of a truck on only his second call, an experience that proved invaluable in preparing him for the dynamic demands of our bustling coastal community.
Returning to the south and New Hanover County, Ward's commitment flourished. Starting as a part-time firefighter, he transitioned to a full-time firefighter/apparatus operator within six months. Throughout his journey, Ward maintained a relentless pursuit of professional growth, undertaking every available training and certification opportunity. Relying on balance and resilience to guide him through his career. "You are going to wax and wane in your career— there will be moments when professional challenges coincide with personal hardships," observes Ward. "Nevertheless, you have to remain persistent and maintain the drive to overcome the obstacles and strive to be better."
Ward's resilience and tenacity led to his promotion to Captain in 2018. Beyond the rank, he earned the profound respect and admiration of his peers and crew at Station 18 in Myrtle Grove. Ward's passion for the job is evident, inspiring everyone around him to strive for excellence. Known for his straightforward communication style and commitment to hands-on training, he sets the standard for what a firefighter and captain should be and is a role model for recruits.
Firefighter/apparatus operator Ryan Mills attests to Ward's influence, stating, "What's so amazing about Ben is that he gets it—he has a profound understanding of what matters most as firefighters. He keeps us actively engaged and allows us opportunities for hands-on training. He pushes us to train hard, not just on truck company but also with staying current as firefighters.”
What resonates even louder than words is the genuine admiration Ward commands from those who work or train under him. Whether at the Fire Academy or company drills, Ward effortlessly exudes authority, commanding respect and attention from recruits and peers alike. His leadership style fosters a sense of eagerness among his team to run drills and perfect their craft, creating an atmosphere of mutual support and dedication.
Captain Ben Ward consistently embodies the qualities of an everyday superhero, extending his service and dedication to educating the next generation of firefighters even on his days off, as a firefighter instructor with the Fire Academy at Cape Fear Community College. Ben Ward's commitment to pouring into the next generation of firefighters stems from a profound belief in the enduring importance of continuous learning within the fire service. Recognizing that the eagerness to learn should persist from day one through year 30. For Ward, investing time and attention in professional development ensures that the legacy of expertise and dedication is passed down seamlessly.
With the intention of continuing in the firefighting profession for the next two decades as long as "mind and body keep up," Ward emphasizes the critical role of training and knowledge transfer. His focus on professional development is about more than just the present. It is a forward-looking investment, ensuring that when he retires— he can be confident in the capabilities and preparedness of those carrying on the mantle of service.
Despite embodying heroism independently, Captain Ward remains humble, reserving his most profound admiration for his fellow firefighters. "It's crucial that we foster mutual support within the fire services, expressing genuine gratitude and support for one another," states Captain Ward. "The firefighters who diligently work during my days off are my heroes, and I deeply appreciate their dedication to keeping my friends, family, and community safe."