BEDFORD, N.Y. Being a fireman in his community is a life-changing experience for Jason Siemers, chief of the Bedford Village Fire Department. He tells his new recruits, When the horn blows, you are being called to duty when everyone is sleeping, eating dinner, playing with their kids. Even when the weather is severe and the flashes are going across the TV, you are putting on your boots.
An officer for nearly a decade, Siemers has gone on his share of unusual calls. In addition to responding to many animal rescues, he has helped horses off roofs and saved riders stuck in the woods. Siemers also leads Bedford school district students who visit the fire house in exploring the trucks and learning to be safe in emergencies.
Bedford Village, a sleepy suburb, can be a busy place for emergency personnel. As he was followed by a television crew a couple of winters ago, Siemers responded to 52 calls in one day. The Village Fire Department is unique because it handles fire and EMS calls. Siemers said his team sometimes gets worn out.
He describes the force as different from just one generation ago, when most of the volunteers lived and worked in town. Siemers, a carpenter, says most of the members now have white-collar jobs in the city. This creates the need to rebalance the shifts of workers who are not always nearby to respond to emergencies.
Siemers has been a member of the fire department since 1997, and his wife Shannon is a second-generation firefighter. He calls himself lucky because she understands his demanding schedule. It is a lot of hours in your life to dedicate to an establishment where you dont receive any money whatsoever. He proudly describes how their 2-year-old son Evan already loves to play with fire trucks and wear his parents parade hats around the house, hinting that another generation will heed the call.
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