Community mourns retired firefighter David Insley

Then-Fire Chief David See, left, presents Firefighter David Insley with a commendation about 10 years ago.

When David Allen Insley Jr. died Sunday, the world lost an admirable man, those who loved him said this week, for his good-heartedness, his commitment and humility.

“I always wanted to be just like my father. Even now, I’m still trying. I don’t know if I’ll ever make it, but I try every day of my life,” his son, Ian David Insley, said this week.

“He stretched himself beyond thin to make sure my brother Shane and I had everything we needed and wanted. I think the biggest thing I learned from my father is — and it was never necessarily something that was spoken – is that he gave 110 percent of himself and he never expected or wanted anything from anybody. That’s the biggest thing. The fire and EMS world are pretty dangerous. There’s a certain amount of excitement and energy that go into those things.  He was never in it for flashing lights and loud sirens. He was in it for the people,” his son said.

Insley, 56, died after the cancer he had been diagnosed with earlier returned.

“He had multiple trips to the hospital and trying to get chemo and everything. He had surgery at Johns Hopkins last July to remove a portion of his lung that had the cancer. They took that and everything looked great. All the scans looked great. Then at his six-month follow-up in January this year they found more cancer and it had spread. In January they found new cancer,” his son explained.

Still, Insley’s love for traveling continued. In four years, he took 15 cruises, three after the initial cancer diagnosis.

A career firefighter and certified scuba diver who also taught diving, Insley began his career as a volunteer in Mardela, then was hired by the Salisbury Fire Department in 1990.

Because of his illness, he retired last year, after 27 years.

“David and I have been friends for 25 years. He was my role model and got me involved in the fire and EMS business. He had a humor like no other. He was sarcastic and witty but at the same time he was excellent at what he did,” said Acting Lt. Mike Carbaugh, who worked with Insley at the fire department.

“Some people would take him wrong because of his sarcasm. He’d put on this big front of being a tough guy and nothing bothered him but deep down he was just a big giant teddy bear. He had a heart of gold. He was a huge role model to many people. He has taught countless people. He helped everybody. He was so humble. He didn’t go out and brag about what he did,” Carbaugh said.

“He was just a fun person. He enjoyed working and he enjoyed helping people but when he was off duty he certainly had a good life. He loved traveling. He loved scuba diving and he loved his kids. I mean, he loved those boys,” Carbaugh said.

Salisbury’s newly appointed Fire Chief John Tull said he was deeply saddened.

“He dedicated over 30 years of outstanding service to the residents of Salisbury and Wicomico County. The fire service has lost a great firefighter and paramedic, instructor, and most importantly, a friend,” Tull said.

“For my dad, nothing came before my brother and me,” son Ian said.

“The only time we would have to wait or hold off on anything was if someone was in trouble or they needed help,” he said.

Insley’s sister, Leslie Insley Smith, posted on Facebook family members’ “hearts hurt, but he’s pain free.”

“I can only imagine the people that he loved that have gone before us that were there to greet him,” she wrote.

More than 350 people responded, with scores expressing sympathy.

“It was a chaotic world he spent his life in but he had a natural ability to bring calm to the chaos,” his son said.

“There are very few people who can be completely calm in the middle of chaos and he was one of them.  He was often imitated but never duplicated.”

Insley, who lived in Delmar, was born Feb. 28, 1962, in Salisbury. His father, David Allen Insley, Sr., survives in Mardela Springs. His mother, Helen D. Insley, died in 2001.

A graduate of Mardela High School, Insley served in the Maryland National Guard from 1981 to 1986. He joined the Mardela Springs Volunteer Fire Company in the mid 1980s and earned the Cardiac Rescue Technician certification.

At the Salisbury Fire Department, he reorganized the city’s underwater search and rescue program and was commander of the dive team for 13 years.

He formed a Critical Incident Stress Management Team to help emergency workers who were involved with traumatic incidents. He traveled in the Caribbean and “found his peace and happiness under the waves and in the reefs of The Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Pacific,” his obituary states.

Son Ian and his wife Kimberly, who live in New Jersey, are expecting their first child, a son and Insley’s first grandchild, in a few weeks. The baby will be named Ian David Insley Jr.

Visitation for Insley will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, June 19, at Emmanuel Wesleyan Church. The funeral will be at 1 p.m., with the Rev. Mark Bunting officiating.

Contributions can be sent to IAFF Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Treatment and Recovery, 13400 Edgemeade Road, Upper Marlboro, MD 20772.


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