Joining a volunteer fire department is not as popular as it used to be.
The older generation continues to work to keep local firehouses going.
Six men in Brookside are still answering the call after dedicating their lives to the community for decades.
In Brookside it’s a tradition.
Brookside Fire Department, Assistant Chief, Allan Ketzell said, “My father was into it, and I started as a cadet in the 50’s and when I became 18 years old I went into the regular fire department, and here I am today.”
Brookside Fire Department, Marvin Husarik said, “In 1993, of course that’s like 25 years ago.”
Ketzell said, “I grew up, the fire department was where I went.”
Brookside Fire Department, Jeff Bennett said, “”Saw it going out all the time, and we just decided we wanted to join.”
Brookside Fire Department, Dave Anderson said, “I became a cadet at 14 years old and used to sneak in the backdoor to get in you know because this is where I wanted to be everyday.”
For the majority, a family tradition like the Ketzells is four generations strong.
“70 some years old, and everyday if we have a call 4 o clock in the morning he’s the first one to get up and get here,” said Ketzell.
And the Bennetts who’s wives and kids work at the department too.
Brookside Fire Department, Brent Bennett said, “Well they just all grew up and wanted to come to the fire house with Dad.”
After over 200 years combined service what keeps them going?
Husarik said, “It’s the gratification that you know you’re serving the people you grew up with.”
They’re proud to respond to a high number of calls without paid staff.
Anderson said, “There’s just such a shortage of volunteers throughout the entire nation that we just can’t quit doing it.”
And they’re proud to be known in the village for more than fighting fires.
Ketzell said, “Making sure the kids are safe on Halloween, taking Santa Claus around at Christmas, doing the fire prevention talks, talking to girl scouts, boy scouts, doing the football games the baseball games for Bridgeport high school.”
The brotherhood between them the dedication that drives them but it’s the little things that make their service worthwhile.
“People know what you do and I think they really appreciate it,” said Anderson.
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