When brothers Pat and Tim Murray say fire service is their life, they're not kidding.
The two grew up hearing stories not only from their father, but their uncle and grandfather, too, who all served in fire departments in Chicago and suburbs.
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"It's in our blood," Pat Murray says. "We've been exposed to it all our lives."
Both brothers work full time for the Schaumburg Fire Department and part time with the Prospect Heights Fire Protection District, where Pat Murray is a lieutenant.
Consequently, when searching for a firefighter and paramedic to profile in their community newsletter in advance of National Fire Prevention Week, Prospect Heights firefighters turned to the Murray brothers.
"We didn't realize they had this long family history in fire service," says Deputy Fire Chief Tim Jones. "When we found out, it was like a light bulb went off."
National Fire Prevention Week kicks off Sunday. It's devoted to promoting practical safety tips aimed at warding off potential fire hazards. Open houses already took place in Mount Prospect, Palatine, Buffalo Grove and Schaumburg. Arlington Heights and Prospect Heights will hold open houses Oct. 15.
The added visibility of the week gives local departments a chance to showcase their equipment -- and their professional personnel.
The Murray family legacy goes back to 1945 when their grandfather, Parnell Murray, joined the Chicago Fire Department on the city's West Side. Their father, Patrick Murray, was one of the original six full-time firefighters hired in Schaumburg when the village converted to a professional department in 1970.
He retired as deputy chief in 2004 after a 34-year career. His brother, also named Parnell, also served with the Schaumburg Fire Department. He retired in 2007.
"I grew up staying overnight at the firehouse with my dad on weekends," Tim says. "It's always been a dream of mine, to be a firefighter."
Prospect Heights Chief Donald Gould knows about this kind of family legacy first hand.
"I myself am a second generation firefighter and I believe that many of the firefighters that come from a traditional firefighting family tend to be extremely dedicated to the fire service and the community they protect," Gould says.
Both Murrays started out in different careers before returning to their roots. Their varied life experiences offer more depth to their fire careers.
Pat Murray joined the Marine Corps out of high school. He joined Prospect Heights' department in 1991 as a paid, on-call firefighter and the next year also joined Schaumburg.
He says the Marines prepared him well for the rigor of being a firefighter.
"You learn teamwork and how to handle the regimen of day-to-day operations," Pat Murray says. "My experience in the Marines goes hand-in-hand with fire service."
During his 20 years, Pat Murray has been certified in hazardous materials, vehicle machinery operation and trench operations, among other specialties. He's assigned to the heavy rescue squad in Schaumburg, where he also is certified in high-rise fires and below-grade and trench rescues.
Tim Murray has earned certifications in hazardous materials, in ropes technique, and he is a certified airport firefighter, which comes in handy with emergency calls from Chicago Executive Airport.
He earned an economics degree from Southern Illinois University, and spent 10 years trading in the pits at the Chicago Board of Trade. He says all the screaming and shouting that was part and parcel with the trading floor prepared him well for responding to emergencies.
"I'm able to tune out all the noise and excitement during a call," Tim Murray says, "and just do my job."