If you attended the Orange Volunteer Firemen’s Carnival or Orange Country Fair, you may have noticed a tall, handsome, young firefighter helping out.
Some may see Joseph Ronan as the strong, silent type, but those of us who know him, Joseph has a lot to say.
I first met Joseph — he prefers his given name to “Joe” or “Joey” — last spring when he was training at the Valley Fire Chiefs Regional Training School.
I was immediately drawn to this young man, with his big ambition of becoming a firefighter and the challenges that accompanied that dream.
While watching him interact with his fellow classmates it was clear that even though he was born deaf and is non-verbal he communicates with everyone in his own way and everyone is anxious to find a way to communicate with him as well.
I was proud to give him a hug after his graduation ceremony at the Woodbridge Fire Department.
The story I did about Joseph for Orange Live focused on his training experience at the fire school since I could connect it with Orange Deputy Fire Marshal Jamie Vincent, an instructor at the school. But because of my promise to orange Residents that I wouldn’t stray beyond Orange, I didn’t follow him to his new firehouse in West Haven or further develop the story.
I was so happy for him when the New Haven Register did an excellent story about him and television news also picked up on his story and let everyone know about his accomplishments. The Daily Mail also did a nice story.
I’ve stayed in touch with Joseph through Facebook and I’m always interested in seeing what’s new in his life.
Joseph began hanging out with the Orange Volunteer Firefighters on different occasions and was a fixture at the Firemen’s Carnival, working side by side with them at the High Striker game all four days.
Firefighter Lisa Kaplan knows American Sign Language (ASL) and can communicate by signing, the other Orange firefighters found different ways to “talk” to Joseph and many of them are learning to fingerspell and picking up basic phrases and signs because they have a desire to better communicate with him.
Joseph may not be a member of the Orange Volunteer Fire Department, but he is a big part of the Brotherhood of firefighters in Orange and after this weekend many residents are familiar with him and fond of him too.
Joseph’s latest accomplishment took him by surprise. He opened the latest edition of Deaf Life — a magazine for the deaf community — and saw that’s he’d been named “Deaf Person of the Month.”
For those of you who didn’t know Joseph before, now you know why he didn’t say anything as he opened the fire truck door for your children at the fair. He’s a wonderful person to get to know.
You can learn more about the deaf community by watching Switched at Birth on ABC Family