Retiring Lieutenant Tim Binger Reflects On "A Wonderful Life"
After 40 years in the fire service, and 29 at the MFD, Lieutenant Tim Binger says he’s ready for a new adventure.
Binger first put his feet to the fire in 1976 as a volunteer with the Town of Madison Fire Department. He was eventually hired with the Janesville Fire Department in 1980 and then moved to the Madison Fire Department in 1987, where he’s remained until December 21 of this year.
Though his entry into the fire service came with little knowledge of all it entailed, he had one thing going for him: “I wasn’t afraid of fire.”
Binger's 29-year journey in Madison took him to all stations across the city, starting with old Station 8 on North Street. Three years later, he moved on to Station 3. Station 9 on Midvale Blvd. would follow before a return to the vibrant Willy Street neighborhood.
Among the first of 54 firefighters to be promoted to Apparatus Engineer when the position was created, Binger “roved” around the city for several years until becoming a lieutenant in 2001. His role as station officer took him back to Station 9 and onward to the far west side at Station 7. He eventually landed at Fire Station 1 in the heart of downtown Madison, where he enjoyed the volume and variety of calls the territory presented. He closes his career at Fire Station 13 on the city's far east side.
During his career he’s seen many changes in the way the fire service is delivered.
“Back when I started, I used to ride on the tail of the engine,” Binger said, citing a practice that ended quite some time ago as engine designs changed and personnel began riding more safely inside the passenger cab.
He also recalled the years when Madison’s stations were cross-staffed with four people consisting of a combination of two paramedics and two firefighters (one of whom was a station officer), not enough to staff all fire trucks and ambulances at the same time.
“You had your firefighter gear and you would stuff it in a cubby in the ambulance, and if you got a call for a fire, you had to go pull your gear out of the ambulance and put it on,” he said. “Whatever vehicle you were called [to use], the other one was left at the station.”
This system presented some delays in response because of the way crews had to transfer their gear, move to other vehicles, and, in effect, put the other rig out of service until they were able to return to quarters. Sometimes those rigs would be out of service for hours.
That practice also ended, and now all of MFD’s engines, ladder trucks, and ambulances are staffed by personnel who are dedicated to them 24 hours a day.
While the memories of several calls will remain with Binger for the rest of his life, one of the most significant is one which took place when he wasn’t even on duty.
On October 30, 1993, Binger was attending the UW Badgers football game against the Michigan Wolverines – the game that would become known as the infamous “Camp Randall Crush.”
Watching the events unfold before him, he went onto the field to help his fellow EMTs rescue people who were suffocating under the weight of the crowd.
“People went into respiratory arrest. They just couldn’t breathe but their hearts were still working,” he remembers. “I was assisting people in the field but as I’m down there helping it became, ‘Hey, jump in the ambulance and drive down to the UW (Hospital)!’”
As paramedics treated multiple patients in the back of the ambulance, Binger hopped into the driver’s seat and made several trips to the ER where approximately 70 students were hospitalized.
“They’re so lucky nobody died. They really are.”
It’s often said that firefighters are givers, not takers, and in 2006 Binger was confronted with a decision that would put this notion to the test.
His son, who was eight years old at the time, was in need of an organ transplant due to a rare genetic disorder that was damaging his kidneys. Binger stepped up to the plate and donated one of his kidneys to his son, one of the ultimate gifts a father could give.
With retirement on the horizon, Binger will be able to enjoy a lot more time with his two sons, two daughters, and his wife. Plus he’s ready to embrace all the fun and freedom retirement is sure to bring.
“It’s been a wonderful life,” he said with a nod to the popular Frank Capra film. “I’ve had a lot of fun and a lot of laughs. I’ll remember those and cherish those for the rest of my life.”
Pictured above: Lt. Tim Binger and his family in 2006. Binger donated a kidney to his eight-year-old son (center).
Subscribe to Email List
- ER Docs Dive Into Firefighting During 'Doc Ops Day'
- MFD Lends Helping Hand At Gilbert Brown Football Camp
- Special Delivery: “Beltline Jax” Makes A Grand Entrance
- New Lease On Life: Oregon Man Reconnects With Crew That Helped Save Him
- 235 New Smoke Alarms Move Into Sherman Terrace!
- Captain Todd Steyer Wraps Up A Fulfilling 30-Year Career With MFD
- Calling All Volunteers! CampHERO Kicks Off Its 6th Season
- 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
- Community Paramedicine
- 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