John Sing served as fire chief of the Boys Town Volunteer Fire Department for more than 40 years. The Village of Boys Town is on the outskirts of Omaha, Nebraska, where John was born and lived his entire life. He died at the BTFD fire station after returning from a rescue call early in the morning of Veteran’s Day 2019, just a few weeks short of his 67th birthday.
Lovingly known as “Chief,” disaster, safety preparedness, and service to the community were in John’s DNA. He was raised as a first responder, through his close relationship with his father, whose life was spent in various service roles, including as a volunteer with Boys Town Fire Brigade. In 1971, John began his own service career with Father Flanagan’s Boys Home, where he worked for 48 years. He began his service in 1971 overseeing the Office of Civil Defense. He earned a degree as a Certified Safety Professional, and created the Office of Safety, adhering to the new OSHA standards. Alongside this work, he ‘lit the fire’ beneath the Boys Town Fire Brigade and built it into the Boys Town Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, serving Boys Town and the surrounding community.
As an officer of the Tri-Mutual Aid Fire Fighters Association, John worked closely with 28 fire and rescue departments in Nebraska and Iowa. He volunteered as a fire instructor for the State of Nebraska and actively organized the annual Tri-Mutual Aid Fire Fighters Association Training Day. John created the Boys Town Fire Cadet Youth Program, focusing on skill and career opportunities in fire services. He was tough, but fair, when it came to training. The legacy of his impact is in the numerous individuals who have gone on to become career firefighters, EMTs, officers, fire marshals, and military service personnel throughout the country.
John received numerous awards for his dedication, service, and for saving lives. Most of all, he was respected as a mentor to anyone who needed help. He was almost always the first responder on every fire and rescue call. On your worst day, he was there, and on your best day his smile and laugh were contagious. In John’s presence, you felt safe.
At sunset, when we see a mass of rose and orange across the sky, we believe “Chief” is busy putting out fires and saving someone, somewhere. John is survived by his wife of 48 years, Sharon; his children, Jamie, and her husband, Todd; Jason, and his wife, Tymaree; and his seven grandchildren, Daniel, Colton, Caleb, Simone, Isabel, Iyla and Londyn.