What little boy doesn’t dream of being a firefighter? For several locals, their dream came true and included following in their father’s footsteps.
The Fredericktown Fire Department is one big family which includes three father and son pairs within the group.
Chief John Clark and his son Kyle; Paul Brown and his son Daytona; and Jeff Farmer and his son Jacob all work together as firefighters with the department.
“I never planned on him following me,” John said. “He actually talked to someone else on the department about getting on before he said anything to me.”
John said he was always a dad first but remembers Kyle teething on the antenna of his radio and proudly wearing his fire department T-shirts to school.
“What kid doesn’t love fire trucks when they are little,” he said. “They hang with us at the station and sit in the fire truck or someone’s vehicle at a call while dad takes care of the problem that he had been called to fix. They get exposed really early to what we do.”
While John never pressured Kyle to join he is proud to serve on the same department.
“We can’t predict the future, but I don’t doubt that Kyle won’t be writing the same story 20 years from now about his two boys,” John said. “My advice is to trust your kids, remember that they were once the one who had daddy’s pager letting him know that he had a call and with the guidance of the firehouse family they should handle it just fine.”
Jeff Farmer has been watching his son Jacob complete all the requirements to be a full-time firefighter including a recent completion of Firefighter I & II courses as well as Hazmat Awareness and Operations through the Mineral Area Fire Academy.
“I am so proud to see the young man that my son has evolved into,” Jeff said. “I love to see the excitement and determination in his eyes for the service he has and I am glad we get to serve on the same fire department with one thing in mind to protect and help the citizens of our community.”
Jeff said it takes him back to when he was Jacob’s age as he was getting involved with the fire department.
When Paul Brown joined the Fredericktown Fire Department back in 1992 his son Daytona was two months old. Daytona grew up around the firehouse like many of the others.
“To see him on an accident scene or fire call and see how professional he is and how well he handles himself brings me great joy,” Brown said. “I am very proud of him and I am truly blessed to have my son on the fire department with me.”
Daytona said when he was growing up, he would always see his dad leaving for calls and ever since he was little he knew what he wanted to do when he grew up.
“Dad works full time as a firefighter/paramedic and I always knew I’d follow in his footsteps,” Daytona said. “He taught me to always help other people whenever you can and that is why I started EMT school my senior year of high school, joined the fire department in 2011 and became a paramedic in 2013.”
John said that he never wanted Kyle or any of the others to feel the pressure of being a dad’s kid on the department.
“I want them to succeed on their own and not as the chief’s kid or because their dad is on the department,” Clark said. “As it turned out I am harder on them than anyone else and they have it all under control.”
The department is one big family. John said whether they are fighting a house fire or doing a community event they operate as a group, a family. They may have disagreements and fight like brothers but by the next day they have moved passed it.
“Having Kyle on the department is no different than one of the other guys,” Clark said. “What I do enjoy is the extra time we get to spend together and those moments when he brings his boys down to help with whatever we are fixing or cleaning that day.”
The camaraderie among the team members is no different from any sports team. They just use different equipment and wear different uniforms.
“Sometimes we get a win and there are time we take a loss at a call,” John said. “But at every call we work together as a team, as a family.”
“Am I proud that he (Kyle) is a member? Absolutely,” John said. “We are not the first duo, nor will we be the last.”