FREDERICK COUNTY, Md. — Over the radio, what had appeared to be an otherwise routine fire call after lightning struck a home in Frederick County had turned into a death trap for Captain Josh Laird, who had served as a mentor to Captain Christopher Dimopoulos right out of the academy.
“The calls for help just got worse, and your gut turns inside,” recalled Dimopoulos, “Josh… Josh was a friend and a father and a husband, and I fit all of this to. So I think that the fact I can relate so closely to being those roles that he was. You both have little kids at home, and you realize you could have very well have not been the one going home to them the next morning.”
Laird served more than two decades with the Frederick County Fire and Rescue training scores of recruits like Zachary Mellin who is now getting a stark reminder of one of the toughest lessons of all.
“I don’t want to say, ‘If the time comes, the time comes’, but you’re always prepared for the worst,” said Mellin, “but you don’t always what the worst could be.”
Corinne Gadson also showed up outside the firehouse in Urbana to pay her respects today.
In a chance encounter, Laird complimented the Ijamsville woman on her children last week as she got ready to head out on vacation filling up a low tire with air at a High’s station in new market.
“I was getting back into the car, and he came over to the truck and he gave the kids these hats, and he said, ‘I wish I was going to the beach,’” said Gadson.
Less than a week later, she realized that same gracious man had become a fallen hero.
“I cried,” said Gadson, “I said, ‘That is the same man that was so nice to us at the gas station’. That day that I met him, I called my husband and I said, ‘I wish more people were like him. He was so sweet and gentle with the kids.’”