WORTHINGTON — As of May 1, a local firefighter has hung up his turnout gear for the last time as he moves into retirement.
Brad Von Holdt had been fighting fires with the Worthington Fire Department for 20 years. He previously worked with three other area fire departments — Estherville and Harris, Iowa, for two years each and Round Lake for six years.
Fighting fires is a family tradition for the Von Holdts. Brad's dad was a longtime firefighter, and Brad's brother, Rick, retired from the WFD in 2019. Nephews serve with the WFD and the Sibley, Iowa Fire Department.
"I enjoy giving back to the community," Von Holdt said.
As an engineer, it was his job to run the water pump.
"I enjoyed the excitement," he said. "The pager goes off, you drop everything and go."
Von Holdt was able to respond to between 85% and 95% of total fire calls over the course of his career, thanks to the patience of his wife, Val, and flexibility of his employer.
As a day job, he works as a skidloader tech at Jaycox Implement.
"I've got to thank Jaycox for letting me respond to 9-1-1 calls," Von Holdt said. Having to stop what he was doing and rush to a fire has not been the most convenient lifestyle, but Jaycox has been understanding of Von Holdt's fire department responsibilities.
In the years that he's been a firefighter, Von Holdt said some aspects of the service have changed — for example, more training hours are required now than 30 years ago — but his heart for service has stayed just as dedicated.
In retirement, he looks forward to spending more time with his family — and will enjoy not having to live at the behest of his pager.