Shannon Martin believes that every child goes through a phase where they want to become a firefighter. For him and his son, this dream stuck.
“It wasn’t orchestrated or anything, believe it or not,” said Martin, a 53-year-old Victoria native who will mark 35 years of service with the Victoria Fire Department next year. . His son, Weston Martin, has worked in the ministry for seven years. “I think we both felt ‘that’ – wanting to serve the people around us. That’s my theory, at least.”
With over 40 years of service to Victoria and its residents, the Martins are just two of the many families who have served together in the Victoria Fire Department. Several families have filled its ranks during its 150-year history, according to current and previous officials of the department.
Although it wasn’t intentional, the two Martins followed similar paths to get to where they are now.
The eldest Martins came to the department after graduating from Stroman High School in 1987. The following year, after completing a three-month training program at Texas A&M University at College Station, he graduated from Stroman High School in 1987. said he was “putting all his eggs in one basket” by only applying to work in the Victoria Fire Department.
For him, the prospects of returning home and serving in the community that raised him exceeded any ambitions of going to larger departments or cities. Ultimately, he was one of four hired from a pool of 12 candidates vying for a job with the ministry.
As an 18-year-old who didn’t know much about the job he had just been hired for, his first day reporting to Station 2 at the time was nerve-racking.
“I got to the station parking lot maybe 45 minutes or an hour earlier for my 7am shift and just sat there waiting for other people to show up,” he said. declared. “I was super nervous.”
Now Shannon Martin works in an office in Station 1, which is next to the old Station 2 which has been converted into a gym and storage area. In 2016, he was promoted to Deputy Chief of Fire Operations, which gave him the task of overseeing all firefighters and emergency medical responders in the service.
While speaking about his time with the ministry on Thursday, he pointed to framed photos of his family that are displayed behind his desk.
“I wasted a lot of time here. A lot of Christmas and Thanksgiving,” he said. “They got it, but it didn’t make it any easier.”
While it was hard not to see his father so often, Weston Martin said he was always there when it mattered and was a great role model growing up. He said most of the others understood too, recalling instances when he explained to his friends why his father couldn’t come to all of his high school football games.
“People got it,” said Weston Martin, now 30. Since joining the service almost eight years ago, he has been promoted to fire engineer, which sees him driving and operating fire trucks on call. “It was tough, but I knew my dad was doing an important job. It made all the difference.”
Young Martin said he was inspired to follow in his father’s footsteps from an early age. Then his father would take him and his two sisters to the old station 2, interacting with other firefighters on duty. Some of those firefighters, Weston Martin said, are now working alongside them.
“I remember thinking they were so heroic. It’s an experience to work alongside some of them now,” he said.
Fire Chief Tracy Fox said a handful of family members have already or currently worked together in the department. The practice, he said, is common in large departments.
Richard Kemp, who worked in the Victoria Fire Department from 1956 to 1959, said the practice was also common in his day.
Kemp, who is 84 and lives in Rockport, said he was amazed at how far the department has come since he was there.
“It’s really a giant leap from what it used to be,” he said, recalling the 1950s fire trucks the department used. “We didn’t even have a roof over our heads in these things let alone all these computers and gadgets that they have now.”
For Weston Martin, the department’s 150th anniversary is an incredible milestone. He said he was fascinated by the history of the department, which began as an all-volunteer force that organized to fight fires in the city after several large fires destroyed large swathes of land in 1869. .
Today, the department has since expanded to include six fire stations, all of which are staffed daily.
“It’s crazy to imagine what these guys would think back then about what the department is now. What they started,” he said.
Shannon Martin said it has been an honor to dedicate three decades of her life to the department.
“It’s crazy to think that I have contributed for almost 35 years to this 150-year legacy,” he said. “It’s a dream come true.”