For Martin Brammier, equipment operator at OPPD’s Nebraska City Station, volunteering simply comes down to wanting to help others.
Brammier served as the fire chief for the Avoca, Nebraska, volunteer fire department for the last 17 years. He retired from that position over the summer.
It was time to step aside and let someone else have the chance to lead, he said.
“I’ve enjoyed doing it. I still enjoy it,” he said. “My health isn’t the greatest anymore, and it is a younger person’s game. I knew I didn’t want to hinder others. And my assistant chief, Austin Jones, he deserved a chance to lead this department. It was time to get some younger input.”
Brammier is still in contact with the department and still sees his friends from there, he said. He even still goes out on calls, though in a different capacity. He now serves as the deputy director of the Cass County Emergency Management Agency.
Brammier said he knew the importance of volunteering early in life. His father and grandfather were firefighters in Dunbar, Nebraska, and he followed in their footsteps. He served in the Navy after high school and then enlisted in the Army, where he served as a drill sergeant.
For the last 11 years, he has worked at OPPD’s Nebraska City Station. It is a job he has enjoyed, and one that is ever changing.
“A lot of my time is spent on routine checks,” he said. “But when a unit goes down, everyone works together as a team. I can’t say enough about the people who work down there. When the going gets tough, everyone pulls together.”
A lot of other workers he knows also volunteer their time, he said, something he enjoys seeing. And management is very supportive of the employees who do volunteer, Brammier said.
Volunteering still runs in his family. Three of his four sons are also volunteer firefighters.
“It’s hard for young people now to be so involved,” he said. “There is so much training you have to do, and people want to be paid. Small towns just can’t afford that on their budgets.
“Sometimes getting paid is nice too, but for me it feels better knowing I’ve donated my time.”
He said he has great respect for anyone who puts on a uniform, whether it be law enforcement, emergency medical personnel or other firefighters. And even though he is retired, Brammier still keeps his fire gear in the back of his pickup.
“We were in Austin, Texas, for a firefighter training event and we came across a motorcycle accident,” he said. “I was among the first ones on the scene and I had my gear and helped care for the young guy who was injured. When crews arrived I was able to fill them in and let them know what needed to be done. The EMT looked down at my sweatshirt – I was wearing my Avoca Volunteer Fire Department one – patted me on the shoulder and said ‘You’ve pretty much got it taken care of, good job.’ My head got so big I could barely fit into the pickup. It just felt good to have that validation.”
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