WACO, Texas — Over 54 years, at least one member of the Bright family has been on duty at the Waco Fire Department.
"Coming up here as a kid, either to see Grandpa or Dad, I just kind of fell in love with it," Corey Bright remembered.
Like his grandfather and father before him, Corey Bright is now a firefighter with the department. Their family history there spans over one-third of the fire department's history.
Bill Bright, Corey Bright's grandfather, was the first family member to join back in 1969. Over the three generations, he said there's been many changes.
"Yes, it's mainly the equipment," Bill Bright said. "The equipment is so much better. Our equipment was not the greatest, we didn't have airpacks. Otherwise you got to the fire just crawling on your belly to get to where you were going, staying low."
Luckily some things, such as the family's drive to serve, never change.
"You've got to stay cool in a lot of non-cool situations," Lawrence Bright, Bill Bright's son and Corey Bright's father, said. "But the guys around the fire house, it's really a family!"
At first, family members were not allowed to serve on the same shift, but now the rules have changed.
"And when I came in, our chief at the time really stressed that he wanted to keep family together," said Corey Bright. "Because yeah, we do miss events, birthdays, holidays, and that kind of made it easier."
The three Brights have definitely made sacrifices for the department, spending 24 hours out of every three days at the station. But they say having family together makes it a little bit easier.
"I always tell people my kids got to go on vacation, and I never did," Bill Bright explained, "because I couldn't stay gone."
It isn't only hard on the firefighters themselves. Their family members, especially children and spouses, often have to deal with them being away for at least 10 nights a month.
"Some of them may think that's a good thing!" Bill Bright laughed.
Luckily for these three, they are able to bring some of that family with them when they head into the station.
"Family life away from the fire department is really tough when you've got several members on different shifts, and we work a 24-hour shift but we're off 48," said Lawrence Bright. "But it's just like... he's still my son but he's also just like one of the guys too."
Bright family legacy at the Waco Fire Department
The Brights may enjoy each other's company at the station, but that doesn't stop them from poking fun at one another now and then, whether it be teasing grandpa about pulling up to fight fires in a horse-drawn carriage or a little friendly competition among family.
"There's always laughter...," said Lawrence Bright. "There's always going to be some razzing at the fire station you know. Young, old, it doesn't matter."
There may be no favoritism at work, but when it comes to grandpa, well...
"Yes, I'm extremely proud of my son," said Bill Bright. "But I'm especially proud of my grandson!"
"Corey, he's a good kid..." Lawrence Bright agreed.
Corey Bright himself however, had nothing but good things to say about both dad and grandpa.
"I'm so happy and proud of both of their services," said Corey Bright. "And how many years that they put in. It's definitely paved the way for me in terms of how to act and how to be, on the job."
Service is one thing the Bright family knows well, and is a tradition that has been proudly carried on through generations.
"The greatest days of that time period, I spent in the fire department," Bill Bright said. "Yes, I was always proud, because I always felt like we were helping somebody."
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