By Barbie Porter
As February nears, Brikker Ware is set to celebrate 20 years on the Frazee Fire Department.
The Frazee resident was 24 years old when he joined. His father Gary Ware was always active in the community through his childhood, and he wanted to emulate that. He found the fire department as a way to serve his community and help people in need. Ware added there were plenty of perks as well, such as driving trucks and learning about the fire fighting equipment.
Ware said he wasn’t the first to volunteer for the department in his family as his grandfather served for a short period before asthma cut his service short.
During the 20 years of service, Ware said there have been several big changes, especially with equipment. When he started, the department essentially provided rookies with hand-me-down gear.
“Now, the rookies get good gear,” Ware said. “The gear now also has three layers of protection.”
Ware has had the opportunity try on many hats at the fire department. He said his favorite job is operating the pumpers.
“There is a strategy to maintain a reserve of water while getting the firefighters the water they need,” he said. “I enjoy that.”
Ware has been on numerous calls throughout the years, but his first one out will likely always be the most memorable.
“The first call you don’t know what to expect,” he said. “I got in the tanker with Paul Newling, because rookies can’t drive and need to go out on the second truck. I remember Paul saying, ‘OK, let’s see what you can bring.’”
Ware recalled the fire to be minor, but the experience was still a lot to take in. Helping keep rookies safe are the watchful eyes of teammates and leadership.
“One thing that has remained consistent is the camaraderie and leadership,” he said. “We may pick on each other but we are there for each other and we all work together.”
Ware said he has been blessed to work for a department with so many strong leaders, from Jerome Tappe to Wayne King, Paul Thon through today’s captain, Joe Nelson.
Ware said the 20 years of service notation was a formal recognition, but he has no plans to retire just yet.
Robert Tollefson was also recognized for 20 years of service with the fire department.