Bray VFD to honor founding members

Posted in: News
By Todd Brooks
Jan 30, 2013 - 5:05:07 PM

RETIRINGFor more than 20 years, four Bray volunteer firefighters have answered pager calls for accidents, medical emergencies, and fires.
The community will honor fire chief Bennie Whaley, assistant fire chief Larry Osborne, and firefighters Jim Gensamer and Steve Boydston as they hang up their fire helmets for good at a retirement ceremony Sunday.
The department was organized in Feb. 1992 and the four are the last remaining of the 40-plus volunteers who signed up to be a part of the first fire department in the community.
After going on countless calls, they will turn their responsibilities over to a younger generation.
Age is a main factor for all of them.
“It’s a young man’s game, and we can’t fight fires as we used to,” Osborne said. “Actually, it wasn’t the fire fighting that was getting as hard on me as going on first responder calls.”
 “When I turned 60, I realized this job was for younger guys,” Whaley said. “We need to make room for them.”
“When we responded to a call, the ambulance workers had to keep an eye on me as much as they did to the people at the places we were responding,” Gensamer said with a chuckle.
Boydstun retired from teaching last year at the Bray-Doyle School District. He lives in Marlow and pastors Marlow Missionary Baptist Church.
It is hard work and not everyone has been able to stay committed as these four have.
“I had a new guy with me in the truck one time and when I drove through the fire line a couple of times, he said, ‘You know, I don’t think this is for me,’” Boydstun said.
A lot has changed over the years. When the department first started, they used donated brush trucks and gear. They also leased their first pump truck for $1 a year from the Duncan Fire Department. There was also equipment donated from Halliburton and the forestry service.
“We had to beg, borrow and plead for parts and equipment,” Whaley said.
The equipment, while appreciated, was not exactly in top-of-the-line condition.  
“If you didn’t take tools with you when you went out on a call, you didn’t come back because you would be broken down somewhere,” Gensamer said.
The Marlow Fire Department helped with classes to train the Bray volunteers, and they were more than happy to help. Before the Bray Fire Department was formed, the Marlow department was responsible for covering the Bray area.
“Marlow was tickled to death,” Whaley said.
The firefighters built their first tanks using scrap metal and also built the station.
Now, the department has five brush trucks, three tankers, and a pump truck.
Other things have changed as well.
“There is a lot more regulations and stipulations than there was before,” Osborne said.
Bray’s area originally covered 93 square miles before the Doyle Fire Department was organized, taking over 30 square miles.
The volunteers are thankful for the support the community has given them both financially and with volunteers over the years. The school allowed them to store their first equipment in the agriculture building, and students, who were volunteers, were allowed to carry pagers with them and respond to calls.
Open to the public, the retirement party will be from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Bray Community Center.
The event will also be a farewell to Dian Gensamer, who served the Bray VFD for 14 years.