AE Eddie Emberson Retires With 28 Years Of Service In the Rear-View Mirror
Apparatus Engineer Eddie Emberson is stepping down from the driver’s seat of Engine 11 one last time this week after nearly 28 years of dedicated service to the Madison Fire Department.
Emberson’s path to the MFD was inspired in the 1980s by his father-in-law, then-Division Chief Ron Schmelzer.
“I was kind of a wild child in high school,” Emberson says. “I didn’t have a lot of concrete plans, but he made it seem like it was a really rewarding career.”
Emberson enlisted in the Wisconsin Air National Guard just out of high school in 1980 and attended their fire school before working with the Town of Madison Fire Department. Around 1985, he began working for the Dane County Airport Fire Department. Then, after three attempts to surpass the competitive hiring process, the Madison Fire Department hired him in February 1989.
He started out at old Station 7 on Raymond Road. From there, he moved downtown to Station 1 for four years where he trained in SCUBA and high-angle rescue. He became one of the MFD’s first Apparatus Engineers when the position was created, a role that took him on the road for four years before he landed at Station 3 on Williamson Street.
“We had a real fun crew there. Ironically, we didn’t spend much time in the TV room — there was more going on outside than what was on TV!” he said of the vibrant east-side neighborhood.
Emberson went on to serve as a Training Officer for several Academy classes, a position he thoroughly enjoyed.
“You’d see the recruits coming in on the first day and they were wide-eyed,” he recalls. “Then you’d see them develop through the course of the Academy.”
When he returned to the field, Emberson headed to Station 10 on the city’s north side. He wraps up his career at Station 11 on the far east side where he’s served for the last four years.
With a career spanning three decades in Madison, his tenure saw “The Great Butter Fire” at Central Storage Warehouse on Cottage Grove Road in 1991, and the blaze that took down a new construction project on Apollo Way in 2014.
He says the day of the fire on Apollo Way was one of the few occasions he and his Academy classmate Rick Otis had the chance to work together. Otis was Acting Lieutenant and Emberson was his Apparatus Engineer. Emberson recalls the moment Engine Co. 11 took off as part of the second-alarm complement:
“We pulled out onto the skirt and Rick was trying to get the laptop going. I said, ‘I think we’re going there, Rick!’”
Emberson pointed to the plumes of black smoke rising from Apollo Way, visible from miles around.
“I never saw so much hose in my life!” he said of the scene which demanded the attention of nearly every firefighting company in the city. “I thought we were going to be there all week picking up hose.”
In fact, the fire burned rather quickly and Emberson says his crew was back at the firehouse by midnight.
“I think there was more fire there than at Central Storage but Central Storage burned forever. We weren’t burning butter, cheese, and hams!”
Though he’s seen countless fires and EMS calls in his 28 years, his most memorable day on the job was when he found out his son, Sean, was being hired to the department.
“I was sworn to secrecy so I had to carry that around for a day or two. For me that was difficult,” he recalls.
Putting his son's badge on when he was hired is a memory Eddie cherishes. The two had the opportunity to work together during Eddie's final shift at Station 11 on January 4, 2017.
As he says goodbye, Eddie looks forward to spending more time with his wife, son, daughter Stacy, and his grandchild — to “concentrate on us” after decades of selfless service to others. But it’s a career he never reconsidered for one minute.
“Every day is different,” he said. “You can do something positive for somebody at a really bad time. You can have an impact on them. There aren’t very many professions that bring you that satisfaction.”
For the people of Madison, he says that job satisfaction translates to a dependable service everyone can rely on at any moment.
“People can rest assured that when they got a red rig coming, the people who are coming are a dedicated group — which is pretty special.”
Pictured: Firefighter Sean Emberson and Apparatus Engineer Eddie Emberson. Photos by Steve Dahlgren.
Subscribe to Email List
- EMS Q&A: Where can I learn CPR?
- EMS Q&A: Did you know MFD paramedics are also firefighters?
- EMS Q&A: What should I expect after calling for an ambulance?
- EMS Q&A: What’s the difference between an EMT and a Paramedic? How many paramedics are on duty?
- EMS Q&A: Why does a fire truck come when I call for an ambulance?
- Meet Firefighter Maj-Britt Williams
- Meet Firefighter Adam Thimmig
- Meet Firefighter Ruth Savard
- Meet Firefighter Mike Reisman
- Meet Firefighter Trent Meicher
- Meet Firefighter Jonathon McCray
- Meet Firefighter Adam Lesser
- Meet Firefighter Patrick Johnson
- Meet Firefighter Kyle Homan
- Meet Firefighter Joe Gangler
- Meet Firefighter Justin Fehrenbach
- Meet Firefighter Matthew Dykstra
- Meet Firefighter Brandon Douglas
- Meet Firefighter Tamara Dinkel
- Meet Firefighter Marta Darrow
- Meet Firefighter Davy Calkins
- Meet Firefighter Ryan Beckwith
- MFD Introduces 18 New Firefighters!
- A Greener Firehouse: How Fire Station 12 LEEDs the Way
- Meet AE Brad Vogen
- Meet AE Vince Soto
- Meet AE Chad Powell
- Meet AE Daniel Pazurek
- Meet AE Todd Mahoney
- Meet Apparatus Engineer Cole Christenson
- Meet AE Derek Brown
- New Apparatus Engineers Now Serving In Your Neighborhood!
- Dane County EMS Banquet Honors Survivors, Responders Involved In Cardiac Saves
- On This Day In History: The First 911 Call Is Placed In 1968
- PHOTOS: Getting Up Close With The Lake Rescue Team
- Sable Flames "Second Alarm" Benefit Enters Its 24th Year
- Madison's Iranian Community Comes Together To Honor Firefighters
- Building Connections, Inspiring Kids: Engine 12 At Olson Elementary School
- Welcome Home: Cooper's Hawk Returns To Willy Street
- The Results Are In: 91 Donations Collected During the “Never Forget” Blood Drive
- Meet AE Ethan Dade
- Meet AE Wade Raddatz
- Meet AE Lance Radock
- Meet AE Jacob Conner
- Meet AE Dan Smith
- Meet AE Kevin Hembrook
- National Preparedness Month: Special Needs Disaster Planning
- Meet AE Tom Winter
- Meet AE Lori Karst
- MFD Introduces Eight New Apparatus Engineers
- Generous Grant Brings New "Jaws Of Life" Equipment To Ladder 6
- National Preparedness Month: Creating Communication and Evacuation Plans
- National Preparedness Month: Don't Wait. Communicate.
- “Doc Ops Day” Gives ER Docs A Taste Of Firefighter Life
- Two Years After Accident, Family And First Responders Celebrate 'A Miracle'
- Madison Fire Aims To Keep Injuries Well Under Par At PGA Championships
- “It’s Been A Great Ride," Says Retiring Driver John Lucille
- A Thank-You Gift For All To Enjoy
- “Friday Nights At the Y” Returns In 2016
- Meet Lt. Lisa Becher
- Meet Lt. Derek Teff
- Meet Lt. Casey Preimesberger
- Resources For Candidates Preparing For the Physical Ability Test
- Meet Lt. Sue Juedes
- Meet Lt. Ted Higgins
- Meet Lt. Matthew Mialik
- Meet Lt. Michael McCartney
- MFD Introduces Seven New Lieutenants
- Inside The Galaxie: Making Madison's Newest High Rise Safer For All
- Edgewood Students Donate Stuffed Animals For Kids Experiencing Trauma
- Apparatus Engineer "Recon Bob" Says Goodbye After 25 Years Of Service
- New Boat Enhances MFD Lake Rescue Capabilities
- With Gratitude, Division Chief Ron Schwenn Bids Farewell To the MFD
- New Training Technology Aims to Offer Full Immersion, Minus the Risks
- In the Midst Of Transitions, Our Crews Don't Miss A Beat
- Finance Manager Rita Johnson Retires After 44 Years With the City
- Farewell to West District Captain Tom Reiter
- Meet Firefighter Caluster Buie
- Meet Firefighter Steven Foulks
- Meet Firefighter Richard Miyagawa
- Meet Firefighter Joshua Balli
- Meet Firefighter Matthew Boyle
- Meet Firefighter Oscar Castillo
- Meet Firefighter David Bartkowiak
- Meet Firefighter Christopher Staveness
- Meet Firefighter Michael Guerten
- Meet Firefighter Marcus Bobholz
- Meet Firefighter Joshua Ramsey
- Meet Firefighter Michael Olson
- Meet Firefighter Eric Popovich
- Meet Firefighter Paul Schecklman
- Meet Firefighter Brian Tremain
- Meet Firefighter Cameron Gasaway
- Meet Firefighter Vaughn Brockel
- Why We Do What We Do: Remembering the Our Lady of the Angels Fire
- Meet Firefighter Brian Bieganski
- The Madison Fire Department Prepares For Inaugural "Shake the Lake" Event
- The Heavy Urban Rescue Team Practices Life-Saving Skills
- Safety Saturday 2015: A Day In Photos
- Firefighter Fun Day 2015 is Saturday, August 8
- Retired Firefighter Tim Healy Inducted Into Madison Sports Hall Of Fame
- Firefighter Ty Stebbins Sworn In
- A Day In The Life Of A Madison Firefighter
- Alix Olson Award
- Awards & Recognition
- Battle Of the Badges
- Black History Month
- Community Outreach
- Dane County Public Safety Communications
- Fire Academy
- Fire Prevention Division
- fire prevention month
- Fire Safety School Tours
- Fire Stations
- Firefighter Fun Day
- Friday Nights at the Y
- Hazmat Team
- Heavy Urban Rescue Team
- Hiring & Promotions
- Join the Team
- Lake Rescue Team
- Madison Fire EMS
- Meet the MFD
- MFD Behind the Scenes
- MFD Mailbag
- MFD Prevention Division
- National Preparedness Month
- Our Lady Of the Angels
- public health
- Public Safety
- Sable Flames
- Safety Town
- Shake the Lake
- The American Center
- Training & Professional Development
- UW Health
- Wanda Fullmore Youth Internship Program