Dieppe, NB (News release) -- For Sunbury Company Driver, Jarrod Brennan, it was all about being the right person, in the right place, at the right time. Around 1:30 AM on Sunday, September 27, the young professional driver was delivering freight to Irving Tissue, based in Dieppe NB. After exiting the truck, he noticed a strange glow behind the customer's neighbouring plant, Master Packaging.
"When I got outside, I heard the fire crackling. I put two and two together - the glow and the noise - and realized there was a fire. I decided to investigate," recalled Brennan, who is a trained firefighter. "I walked up the embankment to get a better look and saw a machine was on fire. The flames were four or five feet high."
Brennan called a contact at the Irving Tissue plant, not having a number for Master Packaging. Irving Tissue Paper Receiver, John Mott, came out to meet him, and together they ran to Master Packaging to assess the situation and ensure Master Packaging was aware.
"We knocked on the door of the loading dock and got a forklift operator's attention. He came out to meet us. We told him to go get a fire extinguisher. When he came back, John tried to put out the fire, but could not. We asked the Master Packaging employee to go get another, bigger extinguisher. I grabbed that one and put it mostly out. Then, we got a third one and basically smothered it."
By that time, there were roughly 10 people gathered near the scene, ready to assist.
Brennan's actions and quick response have garnered recognition from senior leaders across Sunbury, and from many of his team members. He received a note of commendation from the Logistics Manager at Irving Tissue, Robert Miller, as well.
"I've been a firefighter for four and a half years, so [the situation] wasn't new to me," said Brennan when asked about the praise. "I guess other people think it's really cool. But it was pretty routine for me."
Firefighting is a family business for Brennan. His father was a deputy fire chief for 21 years, and his uncle served as a fire chief. He worked in a volunteer capacity with the Blacks Harbour fire department and currently volunteers with the Musquash fire department. He has his Medical First Responder certification and both Firefighters certifications.
"I knew to check for any potential for the fire to extend - any combustible materials for instance. Anything I saw was encased in a metal container. It was just the drive belt that was burning so I put that out. There didn't seem to be any other damage."
When asked how people should approach a similar situation, Brennan advised first and foremost, don't panic and don't get flustered.
"Remain calm and check out the area first. If you think it can be contained with a fire extinguisher, then do it. But always call 911, no matter what. No matter if it's a fire or a medical emergency."
Brennan always travels with his turnout gear and PPE, whether in his personal vehicle or while driving for Sunbury. Doing so has allowed him to respond to emergency situations - including a tragic motorcycle accident near Moncton earlier this year. It was an event that shaped Brennan's life and perspective.
"I was on my first run on night shift, on my way up to Moncton. I noticed a fire in the ditch before anything, and then I saw traffic backed up."
He knew there was something wrong, so Brennan pulled over.
"I jumped out of my truck and saw flames, so my instinct was to grab the fire extinguisher. Then, I saw someone on the ground. I put the fire out, then went over to the person. There were no vital signs, so my next reaction was to preserve the accident scene. I asked some of the bystanders to grab blankets while I stayed there and waited for the authorities to arrive, ensuing minimal exposure."
Safety is a critical priority for the Saint John-based trucking company, Sunbury - the company will accept both Top Fleet Employer and Canada's Safest Employer awards later this month. However, Brennan's actions on September 27 went above and beyond the call of duty.
"Jarrod Brennan demonstrated an exceptional commitment to safety, concern for others and the leadership to handle this situation," said Chris Bell, Sunbury's Director of Operations. "What he and John Mott did was heroic. Sunbury is incredibly proud to have him on our team."