“It came as a total shock,” Brian Martin said after the announcement that he had been named the Saugerties Fire Department’s Firefighter of the Year. Martin, also a village of Saugerties trustee, was honored by the fire department prior to the start of the July 4 parade.
The 47-year old Martin joined the department when he turned 18, but according to mayor William Murphy “he was hanging out at the firehouse for a lot longer than that.”
“We have all been friends since we were in grade school,” Murphy says, “and Brian was hanging out at the firehouse even then. He’d ride his bike over to the firehouse all the time.”
Murphy also joked that Martin has been known as “Six-Pack” since he was about eight. The mayor wouldn’t say where that nickname came from.
“I really had no choice about joining the fire department,” Martin said. “Most of my relatives have been firefighters, so it just runs in the family.” His son Brian Jr. now spends much of his free time at the firehouse.
Fire chief Dave Mason calls Martin his mentor.
“When he said that,” responded Martin, “I thought he was talking about one of the older members of the department.”
Then he said Brian, “and I thought he meant another Brian in the department. And when he said Martin, I was really shocked,” Martin said.
A number of the firefighters knew several days earlier that Marin was being given the honor. In a small fire department, that type of news gets out quickly, but the Saugerties firefighters managed to keep it a secret. Martin seemed genuinely floored when his name was called. “It was such an honor,” he said.
“We are so proud of him,” Murphy said. “There’s nobody more dedicated or deserving of this award.”
Martin was chief of the department for six years, in 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2005 – 2007. He’s also received this award two other times, but believes this one is the most special.
For many of the 160 fire calls he responded to last year, Martin, who drives the first fire engine out of the Partition Street firehouse, was first on the scene. “Everyone in this department knows,” Martin said, “I support this fire department 100 percent of my time.”
Manson chimed in that it was really “110 percent.”
Martin is also the president of the Saugerties Emergency Association.