3 generations fight firesFirefighting runs in the Wehner family blood.
By: John Odermann, The Dickinson Press
Firefighting runs in the Wehner family blood.
Three generations, starting with Richard Wehner and continuing with his son Darryl and grandson Brandon, have fought fires.
Darryl, 51, is a volunteer and captain with the Dickinson Fire Department.
“I was always proud of Dad when he was serving,” he said. “I always looked up to him and now I’m proud of Brandon because he’s doing the same thing.”
Brandon, 22, recently completed a fire technology degree from Northland Community and Technical College in East Grand Forks and works for the Fargo Fire Department.
Brandon figured it just made sense.
“It was just something I always wanted to do,” Brandon said. “I just figured this was something I had been considering my entire life so why not make a career out of it.”
The family tradition began in 1956 when Richard, 81, decided to volunteer with the Dickinson Fire Department. He worked downtown at Mann’s Automotive, which at the time was a block away from the fire hall.
When Richard started, the only way firefighter were alerted to a fire was a siren on the fire hall. The siren would go off and Richard ran to the fire hall, mounted the truck and drove to put out the fire.
“We didn’t know where we were going, we just all had to report to the fire station before we knew where the fire would be at,” Richard said. He volunteered from 1956-1976.
Darryl said while he was growing up he remembers several times when his father would hear the siren and up and leave.
“That was just part of life, I didn’t know any other way,” Darryl said. “I guess it’s something in your blood.”
And it was the same for Brandon. Darryl started as a volunteer firefighter in the early 1980s and has been a captain with the Dickinson Fire Department for 15 years. When he went to check the fire hall on weekends he took Brandon with.
“I was always down there climbing around on the trucks and things,” Brandon said.
Darryl said he was surprised when his son decided to pursue a career in firefighting. “I never realized he was that enthusiastic about it, he definitely loves his job.”
Brandon listened to his father and grandfather’s stories about the fires they fought since he was young. Whether it be the train that caught fire hauling 4,200 cases of beer, the elevator fires Richard fought or the Pizza Hut building burning to the ground in the early ‘80s, Brandon heard them all.
Richard said some fires had humorous origins, including a man who drained the oil from his car and was heating it on his stove because the vehicle wouldn’t start. However, a fire did start.
Brandon got his first chance to add to the Wehner family firefighting stories recently when he fought his first large fire after a Taco Bell in Fargo caught fire.
All three agree that the best feeling is when you’ve helped someone.
“It’s nice to see that you’re making a difference in people’s lives,” Brandon said. “I saw my dad fight fires, but nothing is like the real thing.”