Generations of first responders come together at appreciation event

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois -- Generations came together at an Emergency Responders Appreciation Luncheon.

Residents of Friendship Manor and community members gathered to honor first responders, both past and present.

Two residents who are veteran first responders were recognized: George Shirk and Hugh Epperson.  Both served as firefighters for decades.

The following was printed in the "Emergency Responders Appreciation" bulletin at the event:

George Shirk worked at the Davenport Fire Department for 37 years.  He retired as their Chief Training Officer. His son, Jerry, and grandson, Jeremy, both followed in George's footsteps and became firemen.  George says that his best experience was in helping to save lives. His advice to today's firefighters is to "follow orders because the person giving them is in charge and is giving the orders they think are best."

Hugh Epperson worked at the Rock Island Fire Department for 3-1/2 years and at the Arsenal Fire Department, where he retired after 27 years as the Assistant Chief. Hugh especially remembers the fire at Central High School.  He said the whole school burned down and multiple departments came to help.  Hugh says that "when you are able to help people and save lives, you have the most satisfying job you could ever have."