A second generation fireman in Jefferson County says he grew up inside the walls of the Toronto firehouse.
He says it’s that brotherhood that keeps him motivated to respond to every call, even decades later.
Lance Winstel said he had his first cup of coffee at the Toronto firehouse at 14.
“You know a lot of them said, ‘Hey if you want to come down here and hangout you’ve got to drink coffee’,” said Winstel.
Even as a kid.
And the rest is history.
“It’s been part of my life, they say once it’s in the blood,” said Winstel.
That excitement motivated Lance to work toward becoming a volunteer.
“Actually toned out for a working fire, and my brother and I were up on top of the hose bed, and we actually got to respond on the top of the fire truck,” said Winstel.
Twenty-six years later, he’s still at the firehouse every day.
“I don’t have to get paid to do it, I enjoy it that much.”
During his career he’s worn many hats. He runs rescue with Jefferson County, haz mat, swift water rescue, competes and has won a statewide rope rescue contest.
But one of his favorite roles: instructor.
“It’s nice to see people who grew up through the classes to go on to be better and so, it’s kind of nice to see them do better than where I’m at now,” said Winstel.
It’s a family tradition, that now includes his wife and daughters.
“I got to bring them down here, they got to hangout and they grew up in the firehouse.”
Now one of his daughters is considering putting on the gear. He says he’s proud of that, and is proud to protect Toronto.
“Most of the time you see somebody in the store or around the community, hey, I appreciate that thank you,” said Winstel.