Firefighter replaces childhood inspiration as new captain - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Firefighter replaces childhood inspiration as new captain

Posted: Updated:

RICHLAND, WA - While one Richland Fire Department Captain is retiring, another is taking his place...but they share a special moment from the new captain's childhood. It started when Capt. Joe DeRousie was 10 years old at a charity basketball game.

"I was just doing some organizing, cleaning out some boxes, going through the garage," he said.

"This particular night, my phone beeped and I was sitting at the couch or the table, and I picked up my phone and he says, I believe the text back said, 'you would not believe what I found in my garage,'" said retired Capt. Dean Reents.

Looking through a box, Capt. DeRousie saw Reents's signature.

"I've seen his writing for years having worked under him as a firefighter, and I was like, 'how is Dean's writing in this box?'" Capt. DeRousie said.

On a boy's long sleeve shirt...and when he saw it, he knew exactly what it was.

"This shirt I had signed several years ago, actually when I was in fifth grade, the Richland firefighters played a charity game against the Seattle Seahawks," Capt. DeRousie said.

It's that moment, when Reents signed his shirt, that Capt. DeRousie knew he wanted to be a firefighter. And it's moments like that where Reents knows he had a successful career.

"The next day, we went to work and he brought the shirt in and we talked about how, without even knowing it, it could change someone's life and 30 years later you could see it again or it could come back to you," said Reents.

Reents retired earlier this month after 30 years and 4 months serving our community. The best coincidence of all? Capt. DeRousie is the one taking his place as captain.

"You know, provide their legacy and move it forward for them, and I hope someday I can have that impact on the people working for me," Capt. DeRousie said.

"He's done a very good job at it," said Reents. "He's going to be a remarkable officer."