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Making a Difference: Man dedicates 43 years to volunteer fire department

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RIDGWAY -- For Dave Dorley, the Ridgway Fire Department is home.

"Hate to miss out on anything, or maybe be able to help do something," said Dave Dorley, a local Jefferson Award Winner.

For 43 years, Dorley has volunteered his services. And over that time he has filled various positions, but a favorite of his is driving the trucks.

"I ended up being an assistant chief and a deputy chief for a little while. But I’d rather drive the fire trucks and so I went to that," said Dorley.

"He's probably the first person here when the alarm blows," said Joe Gasbarre, deputy chief for the Ridgway Fire Department.

Joe Gasbarre is the deputy chief for the department and has known Dorley for years.

Committed is the word that he says best describes the man who has fought numerous fires and saved lives.

"You can always depend on Dave. He's always here. He's probably one of the best pump operators not only in town but also in the county," said Gasbarre.

He says Dorley can be seen at the department three to four times a week making sure everything is the way it should be.

But two years ago, something was threatening to change that.

"I wasn't sure what was going to happen at first," said Dorley.

At 64, Dorley was diagnosed with colon cancer. However, even that plus chemotherapy was not going slow him down.

"He responds to every fire, no matter what his health is. He's worried about other people before himself," said Michael Dorley, Dave’s son.

“You know I’m not rich or anything, but I figured this is one way I can help people other than giving to charities a lot," said Dave Dorley.

And because of his commitment, from his training new firefighters to saving lives, Dorley was given a local Jefferson Award. This recognizes him going above and beyond to help those in need.

"Given what Dave has done for this community, and for this fire service, I couldn't think of anyone more deserving of the award. He has dedicated himself to this fire department," said Gasbarre.

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