Fighting for 5
FD Fire Dept. honors life of Kelvin Brown with pushing in of Engine 5
Kelvin Brown rolled into Dodger Stadium in the summer of 2012 riding in a fire engine accompanied by his friends — Fort Dodge firefighters.
He was there for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life of Webster County event.
“It was loud,” Nathan Conrad, Fort Dodge firefighter, recalled. “He was blaring those horns. Everyone knew he was coming.”
Brown was 3 years old at the time. He had been diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer, in December of 2011.
He was riding in a Fort Dodge fire truck called Engine 5. Only at that time, there was no Engine 5.
“His wish was to make it to 5 years old,” Conrad said. “Five was his number.”
So Conrad decided to put decals with the number 5 on the sides of the truck.
Conrad and the entire department developed a bond with Brown, even before his cancer diagnosis, according to his mother, Hope Brown, of Fort Dodge.
“We brought him to the fire station at age 2 and he loved it,” Hope Brown said. “When he got diagnosed they really rallied around him.”
“Every time he came here, it raised his spirits,” she added.
Conrad invited the youngster down to the station any time.
“I told them what my vehicle was and what I drive to work every day and said they could stop by any time my vehicle was there, I would be there,” Conrad said.
Kelvin Brown’s condition worsened in the months that followed.
“When Kelvin was in hospice, one of the fire trucks welcomed him back to Fort Dodge,” Hope Brown said. “They came out and gave him fist bumps and high fives.”
He looked forward to the chance to hang out with his buddies.
“When he knew they were coming he would look out the window in anticipation,” Hope Brown said.
Conrad and the other firefighters were willing to do anything to help Kelvin Brown, according to Conrad.
“We were able to find him some happiness,” Conrad said. “We were willing to do whatever we could to ease his pain.”
Hope Brown complimented the firefighters’ efforts.
“They always knew when to show up, and they remain so supportive,” she said. “This is a spectacular group of men and women, and we are very fortunate to have them.”
Conrad said everyone enjoyed being around Kelvin Brown.
“It ended up being the whole department, from the newest guys to the most experienced firefighters,” he said. “We all fell in love with Kelvin.”
He added, “And we were willing to do whatever we could to ease his suffering. They are such a great family.”
Kelvin Brown passed away Sept. 7, 2012, just 20 days before his fourth birthday.
On Sunday afternoon, a special ceremony was held at the Fort Dodge Fire Department to honor the life of Kelvin Brown and to officially put Engine 5 into service.
Hope Brown was there with her husband, Dr. Ryan Brown, and daughter, Clara, 6.
About 50 people were in attendance.
“Engine 5 was Kelvin’s number and has become a legacy in the Fort Dodge Fire Department,” Fire Chief Steve Hergenreter said during the ceremony. “It was natural for us to get the new engine — Engine 5.”
The $636,768.03 rig was built by Toyne Inc., of Breda. The engine, which arrived at the department in November, can pump 2,000 gallons of water a minute.
Hergenreter said Kelvin Brown is an inspiration.
“We were all amazed at how strong and how much courage he had as a young boy,” Hergenreter said.
On the back door of Engine 5 it reads, “Strength and Courage” below his initials, KB.
“It’s a reminder to us that the people we serve are going through hard times and for the firefighters to show strength and courage every day,” Hergenreter said.
Conrad held on to the No. 5 decals that were used on the truck Kelvin Brown rode in.
One is now with Kelvin Brown’s family.
The other is displayed on Conrad’s locker at the fire station.
“It’s a reminder of why we come in,” Conrad said. “You can’t be in a bad mood when you see that.”