LIVE OAK — A car accident in high school changed Brandon Williams’ life.
Set on joining the Florida Forestry Service, the serious car wreck instead led Williams to becoming a firefighter.
He now is a lieutenant at the Live Oak Fire Department.
“I saw what the EMTs and paramedics did for me,” Williams said about the accident in Lake Butler. “I was looking into forestry before that happened.
“I had that car accident and I couldn’t have had a better experience as far as them taking care of me and that shifted my thing to structural fire fighting and accidents.”
If he had any questions about changing his future occupation, it disappeared on his first shift. Working as a paramedic in Lake Butler, the first call that came in sent Williams right back to where he first decided his new path in life.
“My first call on shift was a rollover vehicle accident on the same curve, same road, same spot as my accident that brought me there,” he recalled.
“It was pretty crazy. It was like God telling you that it was the right move.”
After 12 years of serving as a firefighter, Williams recently received his promotion at the LOFD.
Moving forward in that role, Williams hopes he can tweak a few things that he didn’t like moving along within the department. Mostly, though, he wants to make sure the firefighters are unified.
“I feel like it’s going to be good,” he said. “I’ll be able to put what I’ve got to offer into it: a good attitude, a positive, uplifting style.
“We live with these guys every day. For me, I want everybody to feel like family, feel tight. Because we are like family. We spend as much time with these guys as we do our own family.”
That camaraderie is paramount with the firefighters spending so much time together. Williams said a shift that involves tension can seem never ending.
It’s why he aims to strive for shift unity as lieutenant.
It’s also why he tries to make sure new members of the LOFD come in with the right mindset and attitude.
“Everyone is equally important to me,” Williams said about being a firefighter, stressing it’s no different than any other job, such as constructing a road. “I tell these guys all the time. Those guys are having to work too. The only difference is they’re working a hell of a lot harder than you are. So don’t think you’re special.
“I know I’m kind of backwards from most folks, but I feel like everybody has their role in the world. You do what you do and I do what I do and I don’t feel like I’m any better than you because of what I do.
“It’s just my part. Everybody has a role and I just play mine.”