Lieutenant Brad Bennett retires from the Richfield Fire Department after 30 years
In the past 30 years, firefighting has transformed into a profession. Previously, decisions were made based on gut-instinct and personal experience. Now, firefighting is a science. Lieutenant Brad Bennett has been the steady influence through it for the Richfield Fire Department, but he will be calling it a career as if March 27, 2019.
Bennett started his career in 1986 as a volunteer firefighter for the North Saint Paul Fire Department.
Two years later, in June of 1988, he came to the Richfield Fire Department as a full-time firefighter.
“For the past 30 years, I have spent a third of my life at a Richfield fire station,” explained Bennett. “I will truly miss the calls where I was able to make a difference in someone’s life. As firefighters, we are regularly interacting with residents who are experiencing the worst day of their lives, I hope that I was able to make those days just a little better because of something I said or did.”
Bennett eventually rose to the rank of Lieutenant with the department, where he was able to mentor a new generation of firefighters.
“Through all my years with the Richfield Fire Department, Brad Bennett has been one of the best veterans on shift when it comes to helping new firefighters learn the ropes,” remembered Fire Chief Wayne Kewitsch.
Bennett has also witnessed firsthand how the field of firefighting has changed over the decades.
“Firefighting is much more of a science now, compared to what it used to be,” said Bennett. “When I first started, it was all about run up to the structure fire, knock the door down and dose it with as much water as possible. Now, we are much more strategic and analyze the situation a lot better before we take action.”
Throughout a career, especially one that spanned as long as Brad Bennett’s, a firefighter goes on thousands of call. The majority of those calls will be forgotten, but a few will stick with a firefighter for the rest of their lives.
For Bennett, he will always remember a call that he responded to at a daycare.
“My crew responded to a call for a kid that was experiencing flu-like symptoms at a daycare facility. The teacher thought the child was just suffering from the flu. However, I noticed that one of the kid’s eyes was heavily dilated,” remembered Bennett. “It turns out that the child had fallen off the swings earlier in the day and had suffered a brain injury. We made sure he was transported to the hospital, right away.”
Through the three decades, Bennett’s family has been behind him 100 percent. So much so, his son, Guy, followed his father’s example and is now a firefighter in Rapid City, South Dakota.
In retirement, Bennett and his wife plan on living a nomad lifestyle. They own a 42-foot catamaran that is currently docked in the Bahamas. Plus, he has four children and two grandchildren scattered throughout the Midwest that he plans of spending copious amounts of time with.
“Brad Bennett has been one of the steadiest influences within the Richfield Fire Department for decades,” said Kewitsch. “When he was on shift I knew that things would be handled with professionalism and positivity. The department will definitely experience a void after he leaves, but all of us at the RFD wish him the best.”