Son follows in father's footsteps fighting fires in Fairfax County

Ben and George Sisson. (Family Photo)

Ben Sisson had just barely learned to walk when he knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life.

And once he learned to talk, there was no looking back.

“It was it was always exciting to me,” he said. “Coming home every day, I'd ask him, call him at work, say, ‘Oh what kind of calls did you run today,’ basically grilling him about the calls. Where he was, what was happening, it was just what I always wanted to do.”

But unlike other kids captivated by the shiny red firetruck and the "hero cape" of a fire suit, Ben's intrigue never waned. In 2014, he graduated from the Fairfax County Fire Academy, receiving his helmet from the current, Arlington County Fire Code Inspector. Better known to Ben, as dad.

George Sisson began his firefighting career in 1975. It was four years later he officially joined the Fairfax department, where he would dedicate the next three decades to protecting the residents of Northern Virginia. The job fed his passion, introduced him to his wife and inspired his children. Still, he was always careful not to share too much about being in the line of well, fire.

“There were a lot of details I withheld, not gonna lie,” George said. “I think he knows that now. when he asked about calls it would be very generic, very clean, none of the gory gory details.”

But there was no shielding his son from the unthinkable like Sept. 11. One of the nation's darkest day, reshaping America, and reshaping Ben's understanding of just what dad did.

“Seeing the pics and vids on news of these families and the kids who were my age having to go and bury their dads and their older brothers and cousins that definitely was a big impact on me as a kid,” Ben said. “It made me realize you know just the inherent dangers that came with it. Going to work one day and then a lot of people not coming home.”

It is a threat that hangs over every call that comes into the firehouse. A worry squashed by a sense to serve. And one both Sissons understand. Not as father to son but as firefighting brothers.

“Growing up he gave me his father's advice which was, ‘I don't care what you do in life, as long as you take pride in what you do and you do it the very best that you can,’” Ben said.

If you give him a minute to blot away the tears, you can tell dad shares in that pride.

“It's just a parent’s wish to have each one of them find their calling their niche and pursue it with the passion that I was able to and Ben is able to enjoy,” George said.

George says that to this day, he still gives his son the same advice no matter what he's doing.

“Just do it well, do it to the best of your ability and never stop learning," he tells him.

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