Marathon firefighter has longest tenure as city employee

He’s seen it all — Hurricane Georges, Hurricane Wilma, the tanker accident on the 7 Mile Bridge — and after being promoted to Deputy Chief of the Marathon Fire Department, Eric Dunford is taking on the new challenge of training the men and women who protect the residents of the City of Marathon.

In the 16 years Marathon has been a city, Deputy Chief Eric Dunford has worked for them for 15 of them and is the longest employee of the City of Marathon. Hired in the second round when the city created a fire department, Dunford was a fine pick for the job after being on the volunteer fire department since 1994 when he moved to Marathon permanently from Virginia.

“He is very deserving of the position,” said Mike Card, who has known Dunford for 20 years as a fellow volunteer. “He leads by example, is very organized and has proven himself many times over.”

Card said since the promotion happened from within, Dunford came into the position knowing everyone and ready to tackle the day-to-day operations of the department.

Dunford is in charge of all operations and his biggest goal is to streamline training and scheduling.

“I’m definitely busier now than ever,” he said, taking a break from teaching department first-responders how to use state-of-the-art fire and EMS equipment.

“Eric lives and breathes Marathon Fire Department,” said Fire Marshal Adam Geaneas. “Before his promotion, he would be at the department almost every day and has already stepped up to the plate to continue making the Marathon Department the best.”

Geaneas added that Dunford is working toward more community outreach programs.

Dunford said one his most memorable calls happened years ago when a man had a heart attack 15 miles offshore in rough weather. They had to climb a rope ladder slung over the 40-foot high side of a 500-foot tanker in the middle of the Atlantic to aid a heart attack victim. “We respond with the Coast Guard when needed,” he said.

“Being a firefighter is a brotherhood,” he said. “Everyone looks out for everyone. It’s a common bond we all have, a camaraderie, whether we are here or New York, and you just can’t find it anywhere else.”

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