Sixth-Generation Firefighter Marc Behrend Retires from MFD
“I’m one of the lucky ones. I got to do a job I enjoyed doing.”
After 28 years with the Madison Fire Department, firefighter Marc Behrend hangs up his gear one last time, bringing a six-generation, 150-year legacy to a close.
Since 1867, there has been a Behrend on the MFD roster, taking the family’s lineage all the way back to the department’s volunteer days.
Nicholas Behrend and his son Jacob served in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. They passed the torch to Nic (1913-1942); followed by Phil, Sr. (1940-1967); onward to Phil, Jr. (1958-1995); and finally to Marc (1988-2016).
It’s no surprise then that the MFD was a prominent part of Marc Behrend’s childhood.
“We would go to the fire station on all the big holidays — Thanksgiving, Christmas,” Behrend remembers. “All the people and camaraderie — the whole experience — I always knew I wanted to be a firefighter, too.”
Before diving into firefighting, Behrend made a name for himself in the hockey arena. After helping to bring the UW Men’s Ice Hockey team to national acclaim in the early 1980s, he competed with the U.S. National Team at the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo. He went on to become a goalie with the Winnipeg Jets for four years.
Eventually he returned to Madison and worked with the City Streets Division on the west side. A year later, he applied for a spot on the Madison Fire Department and earned the opportunity to join the Academy in October 1988.
“I think I was pretty well-prepared coming on the job, knowing what it was going to be,” he said. “But you don’t really know until you do it. The first time you ever really go into a fire, it’s different.”
One such fire was a blaze that destroyed a fraternity house on Langdon Street in 2008. Behrend recalls working on the third floor of the house when the fire “really kind of got away” from the crews. Beneath them, the second floor flashed over, and he and his fellow firefighters tumbled down the staircase and escaped.
“We came out very nervous. I think I was more in fear of my life there than any other fire I’d been in,” Behrend recalls. “A rookie on our crew came up to me with eyes as big as saucers and said, ‘Are they all like this?’ I said, ‘No, thank God they’re not!’”
As a former Badgers hockey star, it was fitting to start his firefighting career at Station 4, “Bucky’s House.” He was eventually assigned to old Station 7 on Raymond Road for a few years before transferring to Station 9 on Midvale Boulevard, where he spent the majority of his career. He also served at Stations 2 and 12, and he’s been based out of Madison’s newest fire station, Station 13, since it opened in 2013.
While firefighting had been part of ‘the family business’ for over a century, there wasn’t much talk of it between Behrend and his father, Phil, who spent most of his career on the ambulance. Phil Behrend, Jr., retired from the MFD for just over 20 years ago.
“I’ll still tell him things (happening in the department) and he always has an opinion on whether it’s good or bad,” the younger Behrend said with a grin.
Although their careers overlapped about seven years, the father-son duo only got to work together once, in 1988, at Fire Station 4.
“It was kind of strange working with your dad like that and seeing him in a completely different role, but it was fun,” Behrend said. “I’m glad we were able to do that.”
Phil Behrend served at the MFD for close to 40 years. As Marc’s 28-year career comes to a close, he reflects on his father’s longevity. He says he couldn’t match it, but he’s happy his father is able to see this day and celebrate the sunset of a successful career and a long family legacy.
Marc Behrend has two children, a daughter and a son. Neither has pursued firefighting yet (his daughter is a registered nurse, and his son is finishing up his Associates Degree while working as an assistant hockey coach), but he hopes his son might pick up the torch someday.
In the meantime, he looks forward to spending more time with his family now that retirement is just around the corner, and he plans to stick around Madison. As he steps out the doors of Station 13 after his last shift on December 30, 2016, he does so with a deep sense of gratitude.
“The group of people on the fire department are a really special group of people,” Behrend said, pointing to his colleagues who devote their careers to putting others ahead of themselves.
“I always enjoyed coming to work. I’ve always laughed at the fire station; I’ve always had a great time here,” he said. “I will miss that.”
- Marc Behrend at Fire Station 13
- Phil Behrend, Jr., and Marc Behrend
- Marc Behrend (center, age 5) with Phil Behrend, Jr., and Phil Behrend, Sr. with Chief Ralph McGraw. Photo courtesy of "Capital City Courage."
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