New Castle News

July 1, 2013

Making a Difference: Accident keeps Bryan Carper from fighting fires, but not from being a firefighter

Kurt Stalma
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — For some people, an injury-forced retirement may seem like the end, but for one local man it was a new beginning.

Bryan Carper volunteers his time at the Scott Township Fire Department.  

Doug Sallmen, a firefighter for the department, said if it weren’t for the time Carper devotes, the department wouldn’t be where it is today.

“He’s the brains of the hall,” Sallmen said. “Without him, we wouldn’t have gotten a lot of what we have as far as grants, trucks and equipment.”

Carper is a former member of the Air Force. In 1986, while serving in Okinawa, he dove into shallow water and broke his neck.

After some time doing rehab, and with help from the veterans, Carper began making progress toward the position he holds now. He then got a wheelchair-accessible van, a big step that allowed him to be much more mobile.

“It made it possible for me to do things,” Carper said.

He became a member of the Scott Township Fire Department in 2000. A year later, Carper became the department’s financial secretary, a position that Carper himself created the paperwork for.

Carper eventually moved up to the treasurer position, the one he still holds. He takes care of the department’s books, including its treasury, bingo and hall rental books.

He said he’s essentially the business manager as he also writes grants, fills out loan applications and even has helped get the department up to code in areas in which it was lacking.

Sallmen said that Carper’s pretty much in charge of all the money the goes in and out.

“He does more work for this hall than anyone does,” he noted.

Aside from the business aspect, Carper also has an important role to play when the sirens sound. When there’s a fire, Carper and his wife, Debbie, will take cold water and Gatorade to the scene. He said this role is known as firefighter relief, and is a way for him to get close to the action.

Fire Chief Jack Hitchen said what Carper does for the department is comparable to the work of five firefighters.

Carper said his responsibilities are a 24/7 commitment. When a fire breaks out, Carper is in his van doing whatever he can to aid the department. From the business aspect of things, he’s had projects that have taken six months to a year.

Carper demonstrated his commitment as the siren sounded mid-sentence, and he immediately prepared to load his van with water and cold towels to take to the fire scene.

He said that like any kid growing up, he wanted to be a firefighter, and that he just got into it through a different avenue. He believes that it’s always good to do what you can for your community, and this was a way that he could contribute.

“I’m a prime example that you don’t have to be a firefighter who goes into structures to be a firefighter,” he said. “I just try and enjoy my life the way it goes.”