For Rick R. Davis of Bel Air, life is a balancing act.
He balances his full-time job as an electric system operator for BGE, what he calls a "lifestyle" as first assistant chief with the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company, a wife, two teenage sons and the occasional bit of travel.
"The firehouse is more like a lifestyle, rather than a part-time job," Davis, 40, said Saturday. "You have to understand what your roles and responsibilities are here and fit your life around the firehouse."
It was Davis' dedication to serving Bel Air and its surrounding communities that earned the company a $10,000 grant from BGE, which was given on his behalf.
He learned last Friday he was one of six BGE employees to earn grants for the organizations they volunteer for.
Each employee could get up to $20,000 each from BGE and Exelon, its parent company, according to a BGE news release issued last Friday.
Davis is one of 16 electric system operators who are responsible for running the "whole electric system" serving 1.3 million BGE customers.
He said the job is similar to being an air traffic controller. Davis works a rotating shift between a day shift, evening shift and night shift.
Davis said he will often report to his shift straight from a lengthy fire call, which he had to get out of bed to respond to.
"They really take care of me," he said of BGE. "They've always been understanding when it comes to the volunteer fire service."
The grant winners were announced during the utility's Energy for the Community Volunteer Awards Luncheon, which took place Friday in the Frederick Douglass Maritime Park Founders Room in Baltimore.
"I was really surprised because there are so many people at BGE and at Exelon that do so much for the community that I was shocked that they picked me," he said.
Davis said he later told members of the fire company's board to "just use the money where they deem it necessary."
Bel Air Fire Chief Edward Hopkins, who also attended the banquet, said last Friday that company leaders must get together and determine what project the money will go to.
"Clearly it will be a project that will support the fire service [and] ultimately, in the end, supports the citizens of Bel Air and the citizens of Harford County," Hopkins said.
Hopkins noted Davis has "dedicated his entire life to the fire service."
"That was pretty exciting, one, to see Rick get the award, and also to see BGE recognize employees who provide service to their community," Hopkins said.
Lifetime of service
Davis is a 25-year veteran of one of the busiest volunteer fire companies in Harford County, and he stays busy himself, answering an average of 700 calls per year; he hit 1,100 calls in 2013.
Members of the company respond to about 2,400 fire calls and about 7,000 EMS calls a year, Davis said.
"You've got to enjoy it, because every day is something different," Davis explained. "The firehouse is just like a big extended family that you have."
He has been a member of the company since age 16, although he maintains he has been part of it since he was born.
"When I was born, our first stop, I think, was at the firehouse," he said.
His late father, Rick B. Davis, was a member of the company for 35 years, and he served as fire chief during 1998.
The elder Davis died in June 2013.
The younger Davis grew up hanging out in the firehouse; he said he would get up in the middle of the night with his father for a fire call and hang around the firehouse, or help out with "whatever I could" there, such as by washing fire trucks.
He would see his father drop everything to answer a fire call. Davis recalled that his father operated a lawn care business, and he would work with his dad.
"If we were in the middle of a lawn, we would stop mowing and run to the firehouse," Davis said.
His family is heavily involved in the fire service also; his wife, Kristine, is president of the company's Auxiliary Division, and his sons Steven, 14, and Kevin, 13, are junior firefighters.
Davis said he encourages his sons and other young people involved with the fire company to pursue a career first, however.
"Get a career, figure out where you want to be in your life," he explained. "The firehouse will always be there when you get back."
Exelon and BGE contributed $55,000 to the six organizations throughout the state. They included the Bel Air fire company, the Baltimore Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Christmas in April*Calvert County Inc., Calvert County's K9 Search and Rescue Unit, the Parkville Recreation Council and Under 21 Drop In Center of Baltimore County and Special Olympics Maryland.
"The BGE employees honored today truly embody the spirit of community service and they are a testament that our commitment extends well beyond keeping the lights on," Calvin G. Butler Jr., CEO of BGE, said in a statement. "I admire their passion and dedication and I applaud them for their commitment to giving back to our customers and the communities in which our employees live and work."
Davis and his fellow winners were named in a surprise announcement during the banquet.
"Davis has extensive training in the fields of fire suppression, emergency medical care, hazardous materials, rescue operations and command leadership," BGE officials stated.
Davis is one of four chiefs who report to Hopkins; Hopkins said they are responsible for company and facility operations, personnel matters, the annual budget process and planning and development of company projects.
"His actions throughout the years have saved the lives of many as well as millions of dollars in property," BGE officials stated.