Charles “Chuck” Ritschard Sr., recipient of this year’s Firefighter of the Year award, will be honored on Saturday, May 31, at Friendship Hook and Ladder Banquet Hall during this year’s 60th annual Citizen of the Year Banquet.
Ritschard, who has been working for the Friendship Hook and Ladder Fire Company for the past five years, grew up in Upper Pottsgrove and recalls spending time at the Pottsgrove Fire Company as a young boy.
“I actually lived right behind the Pottsgrove firehouse and I use to take my bicycle wherever they went so that I could find out what was going on,” said Ritschard. “When I turned 21, I joined that same fire company.”
Ritschard became a junior firefighter and within six years, became fire chief. After four years of working as Assistant Chief at Keystone Fire Company, Ritschard heard about a new unit being created, the Enhanced Rescue Unit at Friendship Hook and Ladder Fire Company in Boyertown.
“As you’re getting older, you want to try different things and I had done all of the firefighter classes so I started taking these new classes,” said Ritschard. “So now I’m getting into the rescue end of things, which is what I really want.”
Ritschard’s wife, Christine, also works at Friendship Hook and Ladder as part of the fire police. They have two sons and a daughter, all of who work within the fire industry. Outside of work, Ritschard enjoys camping with his family and spending time with his grandchildren.
“My whole family is in the firefighting business, right down to our Dalmatian,” said Ritschard. “When I was younger I wasn’t around the kids as much because I was so involved with the fire company being Chief, now I have time to spend with my kids and grandkids.”
The Ritschard firefighting family will all be in attendance at this year’s banquet and Ritschard said he is honored to be receiving this year’s award.
“I’m looking forward to thanking everybody and I feel proud that my other firefighters feel that way about me that I was a good choice.”
Ritschard also expressed enthusiasm about the July 1st merge of Keystone, Liberty, and Friendship Hook and Ladder Fire Company into a single unit.
“I’m on the board so I’m really excited about that this year,” said Ritschard. “We’re all looking forward to the new fire company as a whole, it’s definitely going to be something new.”
Tickets for the Citizen of the Year Banquet can be obtained at Zimmer’s Pets, Building a Better Boyertown, and at the office of Dr. Cara Reitnauer and Dr. James Tribbett.