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Volunteer firefighting: Elbit America's Talladega employees put service above self

By Taylor Bargfrede, Communications Intern

At Elbit Systems of America, employees hold many core values that shape the way we interact inside and outside of work. One of these values is that we are active participants in the communities where we work. Four employees at Talladega Operations exemplify this quality well. Brandon Foster (Former Firefighter), Sammy Gallman (Former Fire Chief and Director Board Member), Jared Lamkin (Lieutenant), and Duane Wright (Fire Chief) serve their communities by volunteering as firefighters.

Each started firefighting for different reasons. Brandon started because of influence from his grandfather.

“I grew up listening to his stories and when I was old enough, I immediately started volunteering,” said Brandon. 

The experiences that these employees have had also shaped their decision to start firefighting.

Duane started at age 13 and has been volunteering ever since. After helping the firefighters put out a fire at his neighbor’s house, he knew that this was a passion he wanted to pursue. After helping with other fires, he was asked to join as a firefighter and is now the current Fire Chief after 47 years of service.

Serving as a volunteer firefighter brings many memories and experiences. Something that all four employees mentioned is the brotherhood that comes along with firefighting. Through all of the trainings and time together, these men become like family with their fellow volunteers, putting their lives on the line to serve their communities.

“We bond through the stress and that’s what makes being a firefighter fun,” said Jared.

Firefighting is serious and these volunteers can make the difference between life and death, but that is not all firefighters do. Firefighters are often the first responders on the scene of serious accidents. Although many of these events are tough to see, they also strengthen the bond between the volunteers.

“It is the brotherhood that keeps us going. I couldn’t do this job without any single one of them,” said Duane.

Although these firefighters see blood, death, and other terrible scenes, they keep on pressing forward, encouraged by the act of service.

Sammy said, “It’s a job that nothing can prepare you for. You just have to do what feels right in your heart.”

Throughout their difficult experiences, each of these firefighters see the act of firefighting as rewarding. Sammy said that the most satisfying part of firefighting was the ability to save a life and help people out in tough situations.

“There is a sense of satisfaction when helping someone in need. Helping others brings out a new side of you,” said Brandon.

Jared thinks about being and acting like the firefighter that he would want to save him when he is volunteer firefighting.

“I want to be there on someone’s worst day,” said Jared.

Throughout the happy or difficult experiences that come along with firefighting, these four Elbit America heroes are embodying our values every day. We thank them for their service and the contributions they make to Elbit America and their communities.