Honored with plaques and celebration at fire hall.

After 35 and 25 years of service respectively to the community of Sleepy Eye, Jon Hansen and Dan Braun retired and were honored by fellow fire fighters with plaques and a celebration at the department’s annual get-together Sunday evening.

“It was time,” Hansen said regarding his retirement. “A person knows when it is time. But I will really miss the camaraderie with the other firemen.”

Hansen began his time with the Sleepy Eye Fire Department in 1978. During that time, Hansen said, fire training involved hands-on-training at the scene of a fire.

“The firemen now have to go to school and really be trained to fight a fire,” Hansen added.

While thinking about his time with the department, many events came to Hansen’s mind that will be with him forever.

“Rescue calls are probably the most memorable because you really feel for the family,” Hansen said.

Over the course of 35 years, Hansen said that things have changed significantly at the fire department.

“All the vehicles have been changed since I began with the department,” Hansen said with a chuckle.

Specifically, however, he said the protective gear for the fire fighters has evolved tremendously with countless improvements in safety and training.

Gear like thermal imaging cameras have been added to make the job of a fire fighter a little safer.

Other than his relationships with his fellow firemen, Hansen acknowledged that his wife, Janet, and his family has played a significant role in his success as a fire fighter.

Dan Braun said that after 25 years of fighting fires, his body told him it was time to take a step back. At any given time firemen are asked to don 50 pounds of gear to do their job.

“When I first started we wore tall boots, a jacket and a helmet,” Braun said. “Now we have fire pants, leather boots, fire proof gloves and coats–clothing made to fight fires.” 

In addition to the extra clothing, Braun said they are also asked to wear breathing apparatuses and other equipment that proves to be beneficial for safety and effectively fighting fires.

Braun said the way fires are fought today has changed significantly from when he began with the department.

“It used to be we concentrated on spraying as much water as we could on the fire,” he said. “Now there is more strategy and planning involved in fighting fires.” 

Like Hansen, Braun said without the support of his wife, Lori, he wouldn’t have been able to have the level of commitment to the department that he did. He also acknowledged his fellow fireman and past chief Bob Zinniel and current chief, Tom Moldaschel, for his success as a fireman.

“I enjoyed serving the community and it was one way to help out,” Braun said.

Current Fire Chief Tom Moldaschel said he appreciates both men for their enthusiasm and energy on the department adding, that their wisdom has proven to be invaluable.

“On behalf of the community, I would like to thank them for their efforts and going beyond their call of duty in volunteerism,” he said.