If in the last 40 years you have watched an ambulance or fire truck speed down the road in Sterling, there is a good chance a member of Loudoun’s Grant family was on board.
Eight Grants have served on the Sterling Volunteer Rescue Squad over the years, and 83-year-old patriarch Charles, his son James and grandson James II remain members today, as does James Grant II’s wife, Allison. Charles and the younger James also serve with the Sterling Volunteer Fire Company.
“It’s a family affair,” James Grant II said. “It’s pretty amazing and awesome to be a part of a great legacy.”
Charles Grant joined the SVRS and SVFC in 1980, not long after his son David became the first member of the family to volunteer on the rescue squad. James Grant and three more of his brothers — he has six total, as well as three sisters — joined SVRS shortly after. Though James, 56, is not a volunteer firefighter, he contributes to the fire company as an IT technician.
After serving nearly 40 years, Charles Grant still considers his work a privilege rather than an obligation, an attitude his family enthusiastically shares.
“We thank God for all the opportunities we’ve had,” he said.
Faith plays a major role in Charles Grant's life and service. He has served as head chaplain of Loudoun County since 1979. Even the Grant family business, GAM Graphics and Marketing, began as an extension of Grace Christian Academy, a school the patriarch founded in 1976.
The Grants would eventually integrate GAM Printing and Marketing with their passion for volunteer work by keeping emergency vehicles parked outside the shop in case they were called to duty.
“SVRS wasn’t quite as busy as it is right now. If it was, we wouldn’t be in the shop at all,” James said. Loudoun County’s population was less than 57,000 in 1980 compared to more than 400,000 today.
James Grant II, 26, caught the volunteer bug early on, shortly after he could walk.
“I would go with my dad all the time to work, so I would get to see firsthand behind the scenes,” he said. “Just see all the firetrucks, like every kid’s dream. They’re so cool.”
Even before joining SVRS and SVFC at age 17, James II would routinely review emergency protocol with his father. “Growing up he would always ask some questions, like, ‘If you had this situation, how would you handle it?’ Prepping me, I guess you could say,” he said.
It was even during his time as a volunteer that the younger James and Allison met, when she did a ride-along with SVRS as part of her emergency medical technician training at Northern Virginia Community College.
“I think I played it off as, ‘I want to become a member,’” Allison Grant said of their first romantic interaction.
“I said, ‘If you have any questions, here’s my number, give me a call,’” James Grant II added with a smile.
The couple now has three children: five-year-old Mason, four-year-old Peyton and two-week-old Piper. The two oldest are already taking an interest in their parents’ work.
“My daughter says, ‘Mommy’s truck is my favorite,’ which is the ambulance, and my son says, ‘Daddy’s truck is my favorite,’ which is the heavy rescue,” James Grant II said. “It’s a fun competition.”
Though he initially planned to work in nursing, the younger Grant eventually used the skills he had learned as a volunteer to become a full-time career firefighter for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority in April 2018.
Though volunteer rescue demands a lot of time and energy — the Grants consider it a full-time job — the family can't imagine not doing it, even factoring in other jobs and a growing family.
“I think the key part is knowing that I’ve made a lot of good friendships,” the elder James said. “Knowing that we’re providing that care to people in the community, you feel a little bit of accomplishment.”
“We’ve had a shift where we’ve had a cardiac arrest in the morning, watched life leave this earth, and then delivered a baby in the evening,” Allison Grant added. “It’s just something that’s so special. You get to be there at the worst and maybe the best time of their lives.”
Though Father’s Day is often a big family affair for the Grants, plans are a little different this year: James Grant and his wife will be on a mission trip in Greece.
When asked what he and Allison would be doing to celebrate, James Grant II's answer answer was brief.
“Rest,” he said. “Hopefully.”