For the past 13 years, Billy Scearce, Jr. has been a captain with the Danville Fire Department at Station 6 on Westover Drive. He began his career protecting the residents of Danville in 1981 with the Danville Sheriff’s Office where he spent seven years as a deputy sheriff.
” I had the opportunity to switch from deputy to firefighter during the City’s annexation, “Scearce says. Two new fire stations were in the works. Scearce, along with 29 other new recruits joined the department. “I loved my position with the sheriff’s department but felt the need to do something more exciting. One of my best friends had recently switched from the police department and encouraged me to do the same. I have never regretted the change in careers.”
Public safety is something that has always been dear to Scearce. “Serving the community was engrained in me from my father. He served in the military for 43 years and retired as a Brigadier General.” As Scearce weighed the best opportunities to serve others, one thing continuously stayed at the forefront. “I love the fire service and serving my community as a public safety servant. I volunteered with Riverbend Volunteer Fire Department for 20 years,” Scearce says. He was one of the seven DFD/Danville Professional Firefighters Association members who assisted in New York during 9/11. Scearce also serves as Battalion Chief/FF/EMT at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) on his days away from the Danville Fire Department.
“Serving the community was engrained in me from my father. He served in the military for 43 years and retired as a Brigadier General.”
Scearce’s love of fire service fuels a creative outlet that allows him to honor the history of the profession. He repurposes fire helmets. “I always loved collecting old fire memorabilia. Once a fire helmet was deemed outdated, it was usually discarded and/or destroyed. I wanted to take that old piece of firefighting gear and give it new life. The best way for me to do this was to refurbish the outdated helmet and give it a new assignment; one that would reflect a part of its new owner. Many have been retirement gifts; honoring the service of retired firefighters.”
Scearce gets design inspiration from the person receiving the helmet. “It can be career-themed, a favorite sports team, hobby-related, and even family-related. It all depends on who will own the finished product,” adds Scearce. When asked about a favorite design, it’s hard for Scearce to choose. “My first attempt was for a good friend and former supervisor who had recently retired. He loved riding his Harley, so I surprised him with a Harley-Davidson-themed fire helmet. It was very basic but a nice gift. I have the shields custom made to go with the helmet theme. My personal 9/11 helmet is dear to me as are all the 9/11-themed helmets that I’ve done (too many to count). I recently did a Firehouse Subs helmet for my good friend Ken Jones who served during 9/11 as well. It’s on display at the new restaurant on Mall Dr. I also did one for a FF Brother who lost his daughter to cancer. Every helmet means something to me as it gives new life to those it has served.”
“My first attempt was for a good friend and former supervisor who had recently retired. He loved riding his Harley, so I surprised him with a Harley-Davidson-themed fire helmet. It was very basic but a nice gift. I have the shields custom made to go with the helmet theme. My personal 9/11 helmet is dear to me as are all the 9/11-themed helmets that I’ve done (too many to count).”
For Scearce, joy comes from requests for helmets. “I often get calls from people wanting a helmet but not really knowing what to put on it. That’s where I get to be creative. I consult with my paint guy for inspiration. Let me clarify that I personally do not do the painting. A good friend of mine, Jimy Pressley does all of my airbrushing/painting. He is an amazing artist with unprecedented skills. We consult and determine what will look best as the final product,” Scearce says. He then works with the customer to determine a theme and cost. “I actually do not make a profit from the finished product. I ensure Jimy gets paid for his time and talent and the remainder of the cost is accessories like trim, replacement parts, and custom leather shields.”
When Scearce isn’t protecting the public or creating memories he enjoys riding his 2003 Harley Davidson FF Edition Road King and spending time with his wife, Mary Anne, his two step-children, Leigh Anne and Patrick, and his two pups, Lucy and Ricky. “Ricky was rescued from a vehicle accident by my Engine Crew (cut out of the front bumper)”, Scearce adds.