COMMUNITY GEMS: Beavercreek couple’s spark of energy ignites auxiliary

Kate and Steve Hone assist Beavercreek Township Fire Department Auxiliary’s emergency responders

When there is a blaze or other emergency in Greene County’s Beavercreek Twp., the fire department there is standing by to help.

But who assists the responders? That would be the Beavercreek Twp. Fire Department Auxiliary, and Kate and Steve Hone are two of its most active members.

Kate, 70, is the coordinator for the 62-member organization, which is completely staffed by volunteers.

“The payback is when the firemen come up to you individually thanking you for being there,” said Steve, 86, who is the on-scene leader at emergencies, where auxiliary members provide food and hydration for firefighters and assistance for victims.

The auxiliary has had many roles, which include forming a Community Emergency Response Team, launching a cadet program for youth, and planning social activities. And, of course, auxiliary members assist on-location, whether that be at housefires or in the aftermath of tornadoes.

“It makes me happy to be able to give back, especially at the rougher scenes where the average person wouldn’t want to be,” Kate said.

The Beavercreek couple joined the auxiliary in 2004, when they were both retired and looking for volunteer work. They had owned a business for a decade and had both been affiliated with the Air Force, involved in foreign military sales among other responsibilities. Kate was on the civilian side, while Steve was active military and retired as a colonel.

The auxiliary is on call at all hours, and generally up to seven members respond to each emergency scene, where they remain anywhere between 30 minutes and 7 hours, Kate said. At an incident like a housefire, members will reaffirm that all people and pets are safe, explain to victims what is happening and help them reestablish control by, for example, reminding them to call their insurance company.

“We try to make the victims secure,” she said.

The auxiliary’s work usually saves the department about 2,000 hours each year, Kate said, although it can be much more. Members clocked 3,700 hours during the COVID-19 pandemic, manning the logistics of vaccination clinics for several months. When the tornadoes hit in 2019, members volunteered 800 hours of service in just a few days.

Henry Ruminski, a fellow auxiliary member who nominated the Hones as Dayton Daily News Community Gems, praised the pair and said that the organization’s efficiency depends on them.

“It’s hard to give them all the credit they deserve,” Ruminski said. “The auxiliary would not function as well as it does without either one of them.”

Since Kate became coordinator, the number of volunteers has increased, training has improved and the auxiliary has added two vans that transport the items required to support the emergency crews, said Ruminski, of Beavercreek. The Hones themselves respond to most emergencies.

Decades ago, auxiliary groups consisted largely of wives who would go to the station to cook dinner while their firefighter husbands responded at the scene, Kate said. Auxiliaries now do so much more, and Beavercreek Township’s group is unique for its number of roles, even among these modern iterations.

“There aren’t many organizations in the country, to my knowledge, that do all of it,” Kate said.

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