Lincoln man making a difference on fire dept.
LINCOLN — When emergency calls come out for rural emergency agencies like the Lincoln Fire Department, often it is unknown how many of their volunteers can respond, according to Chief Michael Serafin.
People may be out of town or can’t get out of work, or unable to get to the location for some other extenuating circumstance.
That is why Serafin rests assured that more times than not one of his volunteers Lincoln firefighter Brad Baggett will be at the scene.
“He’s the fastest guy and he gets to the fire hall so fast,” Serafin said. “That is one of the reasons that the Iron Skillet is still standing, he got there within three to five minutes.”
The Iron Skillet Restaurant fire was one of the most recent fires the department handled in Lincoln. According to Serafin, Baggett will often be the first person to the fire department and the first person to drive equipment to the fire scene, allowing other firefighters to get to the scene of the fire instead of going to the hall, shaving minutes off the fire call.
The other firefighters, who carry their equipment in their own vehicles, get to the fire scenes with time to fight the blazes and Baggett already has equipment set up and ready for use.
Baggett said one of the benefits to his job as a tool and die maker for Northern Precision in Lincoln is his employer will always let him leave the shop to go work on a fire call.
Serafin said this is something that can make or break a fire department, the availability of its volunteers.
“It really does, it makes or breaks the whole thing,” he said. “When you have one or two guys that are the top guys, that means they can go right to the equipment that is at the scene. Baggett knows how to run all the fire trucks and all the equipment and how to do all the stuff. He’s ‘Johnny on the spot.’ It means a lot when you have two or three key guys, like Baggett, who make it to every meeting and every training.”
Baggett, who raises his family and is from Lincoln, said he first became interested in the fire department about 15 years ago.
“Some buddies of mine they knew I was young and energetic and they wanted me to volunteer and help out and I fell in love with the department,” he said. “I thought it was pretty cool. I don’t think I’m a hero by any means but I just like helping people out in a fire situation, medical, anything.”
Volunteer firefighters get paid different rates depending on the department they are involved in. In Lincoln Baggett said it is around $20-25 per run. The job does not paid very well, is hard and physically demanding and Baggett said volunteer firefighters are not doing the work to get rich.
“I do it just to help the public, it’s something I enjoy doing, you never know if it’s saving a kids life or something else but I feel important doing it,” he said.
And he said there are incidents that he has had to work on that he’ll never forget in his life because of the severe situations.
“We had a structure fire where we assisted Mikado, there were four people who burned up in it and we found them. I think about that pretty much daily because the one girl was my daughter’s age, but you never know what you’re going to get paged out to, it could be a small grass fire or a larger fire involving people,” he said.
But although the work can be rough Baggett said he doesn’t see himself leaving the department anytime soon.
“There are a lot of new guys and younger guys that I would like to help out. I was taught by some good firefighters myself,” he said.
Baggett said that many rural fire departments are looking for people to join or younger volunteers to team up with the departments.
“It’s very important. The young guys are a lot of times tough guys, there is a lot of bull work, it’s not just you putting the hose on the fire and it takes a lot of people,” he said. “You get a lot appreciation from the community and it makes you feel good about yourself. We just had a Letter to the Editor that we had a first responder call in Harrisville telling us how much they appreciated what we do.”
Baggett said, however, he does not do the job for recognition, although it’s nice to hear feedback.
“I don’t do it to be a hero, I do it to help others out because there is always someone who needs help,” he said.
Jason Ogden can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Jason on Twitter @jo_alpenanews.