First on the scene: GP Milford Supports Neighbors During Crisis Response

Safety is a top priority as GP Milford employees walk the walk inside and outside of the plant.

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October 10, 2022

Milford, New Jersey – They sacrifice voluntarily and have the heart and drive to make a difference. And Chuck Cooper is one of them. He’s been a volunteer firefighter for 40 years with the Milford Fire Company and works as a process quality manager at Georgia-Pacific’s Milford, New Jersey, corrugated sheets plant. He’s been with the company for three years, and recently, a regular workday for Chuck and his colleagues turned into something unexpected.

Chuck Cooper in water tender truck

Process quality manager and volunteer firefighter Chuck Cooper driving a water tender truck to a nearby fire.

It started when a yard jockey at the plant saw flames coming from a neighboring home and alerted plant leadership. Director of operations Nicholas Wriker called Chuck, who had just arrived at the fire station. He jumped into action, alerted the crew then quickly followed behind the engine with the water tender.

After closing roof vents and doors to protect the plant from smoke, environmental health and safety manager Andrew Perkins, boiler room operator David Wimmer, and members of the maintenance team did what they could to help. They assisted in traffic control, moved the resident’s cars away from the house, provided water for firefighters and first responders, and offered the family access to the plant’s air-conditioned offices. Thankfully, the family was not injured, and all made it out safely.

“I couldn’t be prouder of Chuck and the Milford team,” said Wriker. “The safety and well-being of our employees and communities is our first priority. Always. And this situation is a great example of “walking the walk” as we live our values and push to be the best we can be.”

Being part of the firehouse lifestyle is all Chuck’s ever known. “I’m a second-generation volunteer firefighter,” he explains. “My father and uncles were all active volunteer firefighters. I grew up around the firehouse, so it only seemed natural for me to get involved. My oldest son is now a third-generation volunteer.”

Chuck Cooper and son Andrew Cooper

Process quality manager Chuck Cooper and son Andrew Cooper, both volunteer firefighters for Milford Fire Company.

Chuck says Georgia-Pacific has consistently advocated for his passion for being a firefighter and helping people. “The leadership teams have been very supportive when I needed time to respond to emergencies. It’s important to the community to have employers and organizations that support those willing to give our time to provide this service.”

Because of the bravery and tireless efforts of firefighters like Chuck, the Milford Fire Company, and other first responders, our communities and our employees can all rest easier.

Milford Fire Company volunteer firefighters

Milford Fire Company volunteer firefighters in Milford, NJ. From left to right, Andrew Cooper, Scott Phillips, Jack Phillips, Rick Aller, and Ryan Osborne.

“Once you are a part of an incident and see the devastation people experience when they have a fire or any other emergency, you can’t help but want to help,” said Chuck. “I think it’s one of the most satisfying community services you can be involved with.”

Inspired by the efforts of firefighters nationwide – including the many Georgia-Pacific employees serving their communities – we launched the Georgia-Pacific Bucket Brigade program to help support first responders and keep our communities safe. Read more about this program.