Father and Son Duo Serving the Residents of Graham Fire & Rescue
[Graham, WA] The fire service is often described as one big family, but at many departments, firefighting is in fact a family tradition.
Lieutenant Thad Richardson and his son, Cole Richardson, both work as firefighters for Graham Fire & Rescue (GFR).
Thad began his career as a volunteer firefighter for GFR in 2004 and was hired on full-time in 2007. He recently celebrated 15 years of service to the Graham community, serving the last five years as a Lieutenant.
Prior to the fire service, Thad worked in the Hazardous Materials field for the City of Tacoma and Washington State Department of Transportation. He began looking for a new way to serve the community, which ultimately led him to firefighting.
On the other hand, Cole had not even considered a career in the fire service. In high school, he focused on gaining skills to pursue a career in photography or videography.
It only took a couple hours into a ride-along with his dad to change everything. “The relationship the firefighters shared with each other was something I had never seen within the workplace” stated Cole. “They all possessed a unique passion for their careers which inspired me to pursue firefighting.”
Cole began his career as a volunteer firefighter for GFR in 2018 and was hired on full-time in 2020. Cole is currently studying to become a Paramedic.
Although they work on different shifts, there are occurrences when the schedule allows them to work together.
“Working with Cole is a surreal experience” stated Thad. “Everyone will attest to the fact that kids grow up way too fast, but sometimes I have to pinch myself when I get to work with this wonderful young man. He absorbs information so readily and performs with the work ethic that even I aspire to attain.”
Cole shared a similar sentiment when asked about what it’s like working with his dad. He values having his dad around to ask questions, talk through a tough day at work, or talk about opportunities he’s excited to pursue. He says that sharing work experiences has only brought them closer together.
“I look up to him in many ways; his dedication to his craft and crew, his leadership within the department, and his ability to bring people together are all very unique” added Cole.
Thad and Cole not only share the same profession, but share the desire to serve others and make a difference.
At the beginning, Thad and Cole tried not to draw attention to their father-son relationship. Thad remembers trying not to hug Cole when he would run into him at the station. “Talk about awkward” said Thad. “That didn’t last long. What can I say, we’re huggers.”