There's a reason why firefighters are synonymous with bravery. They are a group of people dedicated to one of the few institutions where risking yourself to save another is part of the job.
“You can get involved as much as you want to get,” explains Burlington's Fire Chief, Steven Yetman. “It's a very rewarding career being in the fire service, and would I risk my life in hopes of saving another? You bet.”
Yetman's bold words are indicative of his actions. Yetman moved up the ranks of the Burlington Fire Department over the course of some 30 years, beginning his career in 1978. In 2001, after 27 years of EMT and other fire services, Yetman was named Lieutenant. In 2004, he was promoted to Assistant Fire Chief, then finally to Chief this past July.
Yetman's day-to-day revolves around administrative work like budgetary concerns and short and long term planning operations for the twin stations on either side of Burlington. Yet, Yetman has enacted many initiatives here in town and beyond.
In the 80's, Yetman helped form a Hazardous Material Response Team (HMRT) for Burlington, which he led until 1990 when HMRT was taken over by the state to help with cost efficiency. On top of this, Yetman was Burlington's first EMT Coordinator, a two year term which he has held twice over the course of his employment with the town.
Some of Yetman's biggest achievements over the course of his career have taken place outside of Burlington. Yetman was a responder for 9/11 victims in New York as part of an 8-man team composed of a variety of specialists. Yetman was chosen for the team because of his superior Victim Counseling skills.
During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Yetman was part of a 2,000 strong national support team that first trained in Atlanta, then went to various evacuee sites. Yetman found himself in San Antonio, at Kelly Airforce Base, again there for Victim Counseling and general aid.
“The biggest concerns I would say for Burlington residents are make sure you have working smoke detectors,” stated Yetman when asked what is the one thing he wishes people would do more to prevent fires here in town.
“I think most people have smoke detectors, but also, everyone should have carbon monoxide detectors, it's a real threat,” followed up Yetman, again talking about what people in Burlington can do for their own protection and to help prevent harmful incidents.
Although Yetman has only been Chief for the BFD for roughly 7 months now, he already has some distinct goals in mind.
“We are perusing a new station to replace Station 2. It only has one engine, with three people. It's been the same since 1970, although our call volume has tripled,” mentioned Yetman.
Yetman and the BFD also hope to be able to have Paramedic Services be contracted through them, rather than outsourced to private companies. Yetman believes this will not only keep more money in-town, but also, “aid in response times and improve patient care […] I would also sleep better if I knew there was dedicated ambulance always over on that side of town.”
When not working at the BFD, Yetman enjoys spending time with his wife of 28 years and his son. Yetman is a regular golfer, fisherman and general outdoors-men. Although Yetman originally hails and work in Burlington, he currently calls Billerica home.
For more on the BFD including information about their free Citizen CPR Programs or Student Awareness and Fire Prevention Services, check out the BFD's website at www.burlington.org/fire.