Excerpts from the RBLandmark.com:

Ed Bermann was always going to be a firefighter, and since 1975 he’s been one. At the end of this month, he will be walking away from the job he loves. State statute requires firefighters to retire at age 65, and on his next birthday in August, he’ll hit that milestone.

A lifelong Brookfielder with deep family ties to not just the village but its fire department, Bermann’s last shift is July 26.  He has held every rank in the department, save the rank of chief, in his years as a firefighter, working his way up from a paid-on-call firefighter to captain.

Born a few years after his parents settled in Brookfield, Bermann recalled playing in the still-developing neighborhood, particularly on the vacant lot — the “prairie” — located kitty corner from home. He wound up buying the home built on that lot and still lives there.

Two of his uncles, Bob and Wilbur Langele, were part-time firefighters in Brookfield. A July 4, 1950 photo of the two men posing with an engine in front of the main fire station along with other firefighters is the screen saver of Bermann’s computer inside the Shields Avenue station.

Shortly after graduating from college, he signed up to be a paid-on-call firefighter, responding to calls between stints delivering cookies, laying carpet, and working for a neon sign company.

One day in 1979, Bermann got offers to become a full-time firefighter at both the Pleasantview Fire Protection District and the Village of Brookfield. 

The department during the next four decades would rely on Bermann to shoulder many responsibilities. In addition to being a mentor to younger firefighters — as he was for Duffek and Patrick Lenzi, the present fire chief — Bermann has been the go-to person for all kinds of things, from radios to department history.

He’s the department’s incident commander, he handles scheduling, and payroll. He became the department’s unofficial historian early in his career as a member of the Firefighters Association.

He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the department’s calls, stretching back for years. At some point in his career he started keeping a running log of fire calls, listing the dates, addresses, severity, and whether there were fatalities.

He can rattle off years and addresses for many fires, like the 1977 fire in the 9400 block of Jefferson Avenue that claimed the lives of five children. Nowadays, there is counseling and stress debriefings available for firefighters who witness such horrific events.

On many occasions, he responded to fires from home on off days. He’s got a set of clothes at the station and another at home in case there’s an alarm when he’s off duty.

Responding from home isn’t an option for many of the department’s firefighters these days. There’s no residency requirement. Bermann, Lenzi, and Duffek are the only ones who still live in Brookfield.

thanks Dan

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