December 6, 2021

In his family’s footsteps

Photo provided by Cortland Fire Department

Seth Henry, right, stands with his father, Cortlandville Fire Chief Gere Henry, after taking the oath as a city of Cortland firefighter. Seth Henry is at least the fourth generation of his family to work in firefighting.

You could say the Henry family has an extensive history of firefighting in Cortland County.

Gere Henry is the current chief of the Cortlandville Fire Department. His grandfather, Gerald, and father, Gary, were firefighters in McGraw and his brother Garrick is a firefighter in Cortlandville.

Seth Henry, Gere Henry’s 19-year-old son, is the most recent member of the Henry family on that list, having volunteered with Cortlandville since he was 16.

He’ll also follow in his father’s footsteps of becoming a full-time paid firefighter after being sworn in Nov. 16 with the Cortland Fire Department.

“We’re excited,” Cortland Chief Wayne Friedman said. “Even though he’s very young, he brings a wealth of knowledge.”

After graduating from high school in 2019, Seth Henry saw an opening for a firefighting position in Horry County, South Carolina, and applied, he said. After spending almost a year there, he missed home, so he returned to Cortland County.

He started training with the Cortland Fire Department and took the civil service test before joining the department.

He is a daytime firefighter who goes to calls and helps with administrative work.

“I think it’s great,” Gere Henry said. “He’s getting to fulfill his dream.”

Seth Henry said his career decision stemmed from his familial connection. He remembered riding with his father to calls as a kid.

While Cortland will be his main focus, when he is off, he said he’ll still respond to calls at Cortlandville.

“I just hope he makes a long career out of it, stays safe and achieves his goals,” said Gere Henry, who has been with Cortlandville for about 30 years.

Seth Henry said he wasn’t sure what his goals were, as he was still “getting into the
swing of things.”

But, he added, he’ll see where it takes him.