Brian Paulson, who was elected chief of the Jamestown Rural Fire Department in March, has been fighting fires for over 19 years in Stutsman County. Paulson held positions as captain and assistant chief of the department at different times before being elected chief, a lifelong dream of his since growing up in his hometown of Carrington.
"I just always looked up to firemen in our community. It's always something I wanted to do as a kid," Paulson said.
Paulson said he and other crew members are on call "24/7, 365 (days a year)," something he's grown accustomed to over his career at the department. Though it's impossible to predict a fire, Paulson said, certain seasons typically have more fires than others, making him and his team a little more on edge.
A lot of organization goes into operating the rural fire department, Paulson said, even down to the smaller details like where the 20 or so crew members can park their cars outside the station when responding to a fire call.
Paulson said there is a distinct difference between his favorite thing about the job and the most rewarding thing about the job.
Through nearly two decades of working at the fire department, Paulson said his favorite experience has been growing alongside his fellow crew members. Paulson said the JRFD consists of 32 crew members, and his coworkers are a "second family" to him.
"We have a pretty good crew here in Jamestown. Everybody kind of knows their roles at a scene," Paulson said. "Just being around a diverse group of people with one common goal ... it's just like a whole other family to me.
"Watching other guys get married and have kids or finding any type of success in their lives outside the station," Paulson said. "The comradery it's irreplaceable."
As for the rewarding aspect of the work, its having the ability to help other people.
"It's very rewarding for me, being able to help people when they really do need your help the most, I'm extremely proud of the group we have here," Paulson said. "I'm especially thankful for the employers of our crew members and obviously their families, too. A lot of time goes into this job and I'm thankful that our community is so understanding of the work we do here."