The Paw Print

Ex-Firefighter becomes inspiration to many

Charles+LaGore+shows+off+some+of+his+gear+from+his+days+working+as+a+firefighter.
Charles LaGore shows off some of his gear from his days working as a firefighter.

Charles LaGore shows off some of his gear from his days working as a firefighter.

Kathleen LaGore

Kathleen LaGore

Charles LaGore shows off some of his gear from his days working as a firefighter.

Brianna LaGore, Guest Writer

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With a brief career as a firefighter, Charles LaGore’s life was forever impacted by his experience.

Inspired by family members to join the firefighting service, LaGore’s journey to becoming a firefighter took nearly three years. He said,“It took two years of college and it took me about another nine months after that because you have to take several service tests to get in.”

LaGore said he was challenged by the training for firefighting. He said, “I had to do a physical test, with the gear and carry a hundred pound sandbag dummy up five flights of stairs and then back down five flights of stairs. I also had to do climbing, agility, running-it was gym class times 10! It was pretty hard.”

His daughter, Melissa, explained how LaGore has shown how tough he is not due to physical appearances but to acceptance of others. She said, “A truly strong, tough father accepts his children for who they are and encourages them to practice their individuality.”

With LaGore showing not only his family how to accept others, he has made it clear that no one should be left behind by their family. Just like firefighting, no one is fighting the fire alone.

Throughout his five and a half years of firefighting, he remembers a call that was close to him due to the victims being Mayfield students, that he can still picture this day.

He said, ”There was one accident that happened in Mayfield Heights. There were 19 Mayfield High School students ages 14 to 16, back in 1986-1987. The kids were in a small station wagon. They all piled in and were racing down Washington Blvd.”

As a first responder on the scene, LaGore shares how he was able to learn how the accident happened by talking to service personnel like police officers. He said. “The driver lost control, hit a tree and bounced off the tree and hit another tree. Three out of the 19 kids in the car I believe, were killed. One child, a girl, who happened to live on my street, was thrown through the windshield and landed on a fire hydrant.”

With many people piled into the vehicle, LaGore said everyone was wounded in some type of way. He said, “Every single kid in the car had some type of broken bone or dislocation and some cuts and bruises.”

LaGore, a 1980 graduate from Mayfield, was greatly disturbed at seeing how many kids were packed into one vehicle.

LaGore said with emotion, “The driver wasn’t paying attention and he was flying down the street and lost control with all the kids in the car and he didn’t have enough time to steer away. Unfortunately, a lot of kids got hurt. There were seven or eight ambulances from different cities that came.

Seeing the aftermath of this devastating accident, he said, “It was like someone took a bomb and blew up the car. It was terrible!”

Forever impacted by this life-changing service call, LaGore says that he is always helping out someone whatever the situation might be.

Even though he is no longer a firefighter, LaGore said he’s still ready to risk his life for anyone. He said, “Just by habit if I see a car accident and it happens right in front of me I’m like the first one to jump out and see if the person is ok.”

Melissa further stated that LaGore is willing to do anything to save someone or something. She said, “Fairly recently, my family was driving home after an outing and a labrador puppy dashed into the street.”

With LaGore’s quick thinking from firefighting and love for dogs, Melissa also said, “With a quick turn, my dad pulled into the nearest driveway, With a soft voice and coaxing hand, invited her to the safety of the sidewalk.”

Whether it’s fighting fires or saving anyone or anything from danger, LaGore is known by his family for putting his life in danger before anyone else’s.

Even though LaGore’s time as a firefighter was quick, he explains the reasons why he left. He said, “I left because at the time you weren’t required to be a paramedic and they wanted me to become one. I had opportunities within the family business that I can make as much money or more and so I just decided paramedic wasn’t for me.”

His wife, Kathleen, said how LaGore’s journey through careers had made him tough. She said, “His dad had a heart attack and Chip felt the need to restabilize and manage the family business.”

Kathleen further explained how LaGore has shown her that he is tough. She said, “ Even though his dad passed away shortly after he made that decision, he showed that integrity and loyalty and that mental toughness that it takes to persevere.”

Though he is pleased to carry on his family business, LaGore shares that he was thankful for being a firefighter. Kathleen said how LaGore has changed her life. She said, “Without question, he has shown me the importance of a strong family unit.”

As LaGore continues helping people in many different days his family said, he continues to impact the people around him. “My life would never be the same without him. I now see that family is a priority.”

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Ex-Firefighter becomes inspiration to many