Family, friends steered Stamper to dream job

Published 10:48 am Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Brandon Stamper said he didn’t have a clear career path when he finished high school.

His father and several close friends, he said, encouraged him to try the fire service,

“They said, ‘We think you’d like it,’” Stamper said. “I got bitten by the bug. I love it.”

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At first, Stamper said he wasn’t quite sure if they were right.

“I went to a fire on Rabbittown Road,” he said. “It was a casualty. I was in recruit class at the time.”

Stamper said he was not actively involved in fighting that fire, but a second one about a week later offered a different experience.

“A week later, we had a structure fire on Agawam Road,” he said. “There were no fatalities. It was property (loss), not life. I got to go in pull ceilings and do the dirty work.”

More than 15 years later, Stamper, who was recently promoted to captain, is still at the Clark County Fire Department and still loves the work.

“We do have a good fire department,” he said. “We have people that care.”

Like many firefighters, Stamper has a family history in the fire service and first responders. His father was a Winchester Fire Department in the early 1970s. His uncle Julian “Red” Perry was a Winchester police officer. Two other close friends, Blake Watson and Johnny Prewitt, retired from the fire departments as well.

“Most of the people that work here (have that) lineage. There’s a lot of family tradition,” he said.

There’s always the satisfaction of serving the community and helping others, he said, but the camaraderie among the firefighters may be one of the best parts.

“It’s the best job I’ve ever had,” he said. “Most of these guys would do it and not get paid for it, but they have families to support.”

The fire service offers a number of opportunities to train in specialties, and to keep learning and advancing, he said.

“The qualifications you can get make it better: special operations, trench rescue, haz-mat, the opportunities are endless if you want to get into it,” he said. “I really like trench rescue.”

The fire department offers a different structure, he said, than other jobs.

“It’s a paramilitary type position,” he said. “It’s run off that structure. There is an authority.”

The biggest change, he said, was getting used to waiting for calls for service, rather than working to accomplish tasks each day.

“I went from having to make something happen (working as a roofer) to having a job that’s dependent on calls. That’s a big adjustment.”

Stamper said many people think firefighters sit around the station, just waiting for the next call. It’s just not the case, he said. Tuesday, the firefighters were training on how to treat dogs and animals they may find on a scene.

“If there’s not a training class, there’s plenty of other things to do.

“We don’t have a maid service,” he said. “We do have down time, but there’s always something to do here. We work on our own trucks. We do repairs to the stations. We’ve been out since 2:30 a.m. I had time to take a shower then we came down and had a class. We still had to train because we had someone scheduled to come and talk to us.”

Still, Stamper said he wouldn’t trade the career he’s had.

“The brotherhood makes this job what it is,” he said.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email or call 859-759-0051.

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