Hollywood Assistant Fire Chief Joins Elite Fire Dynamics Research Project

Hollywood Assistant Fire Chief Joins Elite Fire Dynamics Research Project
William Rector (Credit: William Rector)

HOLLYWOOD, Md. William Rector, an Assistant Fire Chief for the Hollywood Volunteer Fire Department, has been selected as one of 28 participants out of 600 applicants for a groundbreaking fire dynamics research project. This initiative, led by researcher Keith Stakes, aims to enhance firefighter safety by studying the behavior of fires in single-family residences.

The research will focus on various scenarios, including basement, first-floor, second-floor, and attic fires in multi-story homes. Rector explains this study is crucial because modern construction techniques and materials have drastically changed how fires behave.

“For instance, newer homes built with lightweight materials collapse much faster than older homes constructed with heavy timber,” explained Rector. 

Rector’s interest in fire dynamics was significantly influenced by a tragic incident last year that took the life of firefighter Brice Trossbach.

“That experience deeply impacted me and steered my interest towards this project,” he said. “We owe it to Brice to learn from such incidents and prevent them in the future.”

Rector said the application process for the research project was straightforward, involving a resume submission and answering questions about department size, leadership roles, and significant experiences. Rector’s extensive background, including eight years with the D.C. Fire Department and his current role in Hollywood, played a significant part in his selection. He highlighted Trossbach’s incident as a pivotal experience that shaped his commitment to improving firefighter safety.

The project will involve numerous in-person sessions on the East Coast, where participants will engage in scientific research. They will construct homes, ignite controlled fires, and study various factors such as smoke dynamics, wind changes, air and water flow paths, and the effectiveness of different firefighting tactics. The goal is to develop research-based guidelines that can be integrated with practical experience to enhance firefighting strategies worldwide.

Hollywood Assistant Fire Chief Joins Elite Fire Dynamics Research Project
Credit: William Rector

Rector expressed his honor and humility in being selected for the project.

“I was super lucky to be chosen. You have people from major metropolitan fire departments, and I was fortunate enough to be able to represent Maryland. Hollywood has definitely made me into a much better person and man.”

Being a volunteer firefighter is a significant commitment, but for Rector, it’s a way of life. Rector joined the local volunteer fire department in Burtonsville, MD, at 16 and says he hasn’t looked back since.

“Volunteering in the town you live in is important, and Hollywood has been an incredible place to continue this journey,” he shared.

Rector attributes a significant portion of his success at the Hollywood Volunteer Fire Department to the mentorship and support of four key individuals: Chief Ernest Rogers, past Chief Ricky Brady, past Chief Doug Insley, and past Chief Bryan Riley.

“I owe a large amount of my success to their commitment to me,” Bill said. “They all play a large part in the department today.”

Hollywood Assistant Fire Chief Joins Elite Fire Dynamics Research Project
Credit: William Rector

Despite the challenges, including being on call at all hours, Rector’s dedication remains unwavering.

“We have over 100 members from various professions, including medical professionals, military personnel, and even a colonel in the United States Marine Corps. It’s a diverse and committed group that genuinely cares about the community,” he said.

His family, though occasionally affected by his demanding schedule, supports his commitment.

“My wife is amazing. She knows how important this is to me and supports it, even if it means getting up at 3 a.m. for a call,” he said. His children, aged 10 and 8, are proud of their father’s work, even participating in community events related to the fire department.

Looking ahead, Rector is focused on honoring Brice Trossbach’s memory by ensuring that lessons learned from the past are applied to improve safety for all firefighters.

“We have a tough road ahead, but it’s crucial to have those tough conversations and make the right decisions,” he stated.

Rector’s participation in this research project is a testament to his dedication to the fire service and his community. As the research progresses, his contributions will undoubtedly play a vital role in enhancing firefighter safety and effectiveness across the nation.

For more updates on the research project and Rector’s involvement, stay tuned.

For more information or to support the local volunteer fire department, please visit Hollywood Volunteer Fire Department’s website.

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