In November, 56-year-old Greg Chetwood was diagnosed with ALS and frontotemporal dementia, and his fellow firefighters are organizing a bowling benefit so the community will have the chance to give him something back. Submitted photo
Firefighter’s career cut short by dementia; chums plan benefit
Harrison Fire Department Deputy Chief Greg Chetwood has given his entire adult life to serving his country and serving the Harrison community.
In November, 56-year-old Greg was diagnosed with ALS and frontotemporal dementia, and his fellow firefighters are organizing a bowling benefit so the community will have the chance to give him something back.
Greg started working at the fire department in the late 1980s, and full time in 2000.
HFD Chief William R. Hursong worked with Greg for about 21 years, and said Greg was his lieutenant, and later his captain, during their time at the station.
In 2006, Hursong became chief, and in about 2008 or 2009, Greg was named deputy chief.
Hursong said Greg cared about his job and community and was someone he could rely on.
Greg was one of the first paramedics in Harrison and his coworkers said he could always explain medical knowledge to an advanced level.
“He was kind of the go-to for a lot of the younger ones with medic class,” said Hursong. “He loved to teach.”
His fellow firefighters said he really enjoyed fire investigation.
“It doesn’t matter what type of fire it was, if Greg was there, it was a full-blown, full-fledged arson investigation,” said Hursong.
Greg also helped develop the arson task force between the Harrison police and fire departments, and was the commander of the Hamilton County Fire Investigative Unit.
While at the fire department, he also earned the Valor Award.
During a fire at the Quality Inn in 2006, Greg went into the building without proper personal protective equipment to evacuate people in the hotel.
He pulled out a man with severe burns and performed life-saving procedures. There was no loss of life during the incident.
But, despite his fire department rank and tough exterior, those who know him said he also has a soft side and a wit unmatched by many.
His coworkers said he had the best one-liners, none of which could be featured in the paper.
Greg also spent a lot of time helping out friends and family with any car troubles.
He earned his mechanic certification while he was stationed in Florida during his time in the Navy.
“He was always your go-to person for years around here if you had something wrong with your car,” said Hursong.
Greg left for boot camp at Naval Station Great Lakes the day after graduating from Oak Hills High School.
“He’s always been patriotic ... do his duty for his country,” said Barb Chetwood, Greg’s wife.
During his 16 years in the Navy, he worked as a boiler technician and often did six-month cruises overseas. The couple would write to each other and Barb said they still have these letters.
Barb and Greg have known each other since they were babies and have always been best friends. They’ve been married for 33 years.
“We were just so easy together,” said Barb. “We could talk about anything ... we were soulmates.”
Barb said they enjoy a lot of each other’s hobbies and interests, and do almost everything together.
Greg enjoys working on cars, motorcycles, and going fishing and hunting, but also enjoys musicals and taking in a show at the theater.
Together, Barb and Greg raised three boys, all of whom have followed in their father’s footsteps.
One son is also a Harrison firefighter, and the other two are in the Navy. Barb said Greg has always been a great father to their sons.
“He always involved them in everything,” said Barb. “So if he’s out working on cars, when they were little, their job was to sit there and take his tools and clean all the tools off.”
The couple now also have five grandsons and one granddaughter.
Barb said Greg is always able to inspire confidence in his family even when they think they can’t do something.
When they bought a 35-foot motorhome, Barb said she had no plans to drive it, but ended up doing so during rush hour in downtown Atlanta.
“I learned how to drive that big RV ‘cause he said I could do it,” said Barb.
The Bowling for Greg benefit is being hosted by the Harrison Professional Firefighters Local No. 3204.
Daric Hamon has worked at the department with Greg for many years and said he felt he owed it to him to organize this event, which will take place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 25, at Harrison Bowl.
There will be a tournament consisting of two-man teams, as well as open bowling.
Tickets for the tournament can be purchased at the downtown fire station.
There will also be a silent auction, basket raffle, split-the-pot, and a DJ.
Hamon said they are looking for sponsors for the event, as well as basket raffle donations.
Those interested in sponsoring or donating baskets can contact Hamon at 513-907-4409, and he said the cutoff date for sponsorships will be Jan. 15.
More information can also be found on the Bowling for Greg Facebook group.
Greg had to stop working at the fire station about one year ago, and Hursong said he’s already been missed.
“Our job, what we try to do is fix things for people and make them better,” said Hursong.
“This is a difficult position for all of us to be in. We’re gonna be here for him and support him and help fight this with him the best we can.”