firefighter has big plans
By Bill McCauley
On Wednesday, Nov. 15, the day hurricane Floyd hit, Chris Millman
was helping Jason Fannin fill sand bags at the Greenwood Fire Hall.
The sandbags were to come in useful, not to shore up levees as they
do along the Mississippi River, but to create barriers at outside
entrances to homes.
Millman and Fannin were just two of about 20 Greenwood firemen who
bagged the pile of sand dumped in one of the bays at the firehouse
by a Delaware Department of Transportation truck. One fireman held
the tarp bag while one or two others shoveled. Millman and his friend
Mike Walls joined them.
The bags were loaded in Fannin's distinctive blue pick-up truck —
by the end of the day, that truck was a welcome sight throughout town
— and Millman, Fannin and friend Mike Walls placed the sandbags at
the front and rear entrances of houses. The truck's higher wheels
and four-wheel-drive kept them from getting stuck.
Millman recalls a 5-foot water depth at one lot on North First Street.
He got his pants completely soaked and repeatedly had to remove his
water-filled boots to pour the water from them. Every time he got
back on Fannin's pick-up truck he took them off and drained them.
The trio's adventures during the day included pushing a hearse out
of the water on one of the streets. Also a woman wanted her car pushed
up on the sidewalk so it wouldn't float away. Frequently the trio
was in water knee-deep.
"The whole thing was wild," recalled Millman. "Weird to see the National
Guard. They blocked off streets going into Greenwood. If you didn't
live there, you couldn't get in. Greenwood was closed down. It was
something everybody is going to remember for a long, long time."
Millman also remembered being chilled before the day was out. "There
are basically two reasons for being there [at the flood or any other
rescue]. One is to help people. The other is the adrenaline rush -
it's always something different. People come together, especially
in a fire company. It's no longer just me or you. It's us and we.
Everyone was helping in one way or another."
Millman, the son of the well-known Greenwood firefighter Sammy Millman,
came into the company about 2 years ago as a junior firefighter. In
addition to his father, young Millman has a retired firefighter uncle
from Salisbury who is now a life member.
Chris Millman recalls that as a boy, "whenever a call came in I would
ride with Dad. I've enjoyed it a lot. I've seen things I didn't ever
want to see, but I guess that comes with it." One of those things
was the death of a child. Millman couldn't get it off his mind for
is now finishing high school through James Grove School at Owens Campus
of the Delaware Technical Community College in Georgetown. He and
Chad will drive together beginning in October when both will resume
Millman left Woodbridge in the 11th grade to go to work for the Radio
Station WGMD. One week he worked at the radio station approximately
80 hours, he recalled. Though he loved his work, the long hours took
their toll with the result that he and the job parted. "I'd like to
have a job as a disc jockey," he said.
His ambition with the Greenwood Fire Co. is to get his Commercial
Drivers License so he can drive a fire truck. He has his favorite
— Engine No. 2., a Pierce. Also, starting in October he plans to take
the crew leader training in Dover for a weekend.
He has already been to Dover for two weekends of training in basic
fire fighting and another two weekends of structural fire fighting
training. He also received training in dealing with hazardous materials
and in vehicle rescue.
Of his fire fighting training in Dover, he describes what is called
"The Smokehouse." He relates that "it is pitch black inside, filled
with smoke as much as any building could be. You crawl up the stairway,
counting the number of steps so you can tell your teammate behind
you. Go in with two others and you come out with them. You can't see
your teammates. If you're behind one of them you hold on to his ankle.
You only let go if he screams, ‘ventilation!' meaning to open windows
to let smoke out. That's when you are really dependent on your self
contained breathing apparatus."
Young Millman hunts deer with his dad. They have a favorite location
near Bridgeville where on the land of an acquaintance they have a
He reads a lot of books: Shakespeare, John Steinbeck, Stephen King
are among writers he enjoys. "I have a bookcase filled with books.
I like psychological horror books." He likes the movie Austin Powers.
Also Robin Williams — "He's my hero," he said.
One of his ambitions is to go to England, and not just to see the
country. He has a friend there whom he met while working one summer
as a counselor at Camp Arrowhead along Indian River Bay. He admits
he loved it there. "I didn't want to leave at the end of summer. I
almost cried. It was a lot of fun. Even now every time I get a phone
card, I call her in England."
It's evident that Chris Millman has a love for life and a zest for
living. He sings wherever he goes — rather in the way a person would
sing in the shower.
He credits his father for his interest in and love for firefighting.
He credits his mother for his love of reading and books. Together,
they created an exuberant and talented young man who is one of Greenwood's