Adrenaline can skyrocket when a rodeo clown taunts the bull in an effort to distract it and protect the cowboy. Jason Brazil knew he had to take good care of himself to minimize the chance of serious injuries when he was on the rodeo circuit. Even with the precautions, he suffered a broken foot, some fractured ribs, and multiple lacerations and contusions during his seven years as a bullfighter.
When Jason became a firefighter in 2003, he discovered that it didn't take as much adrenaline for 911 calls as it did when the chute opened and spat out a 2,000-pound angry bull at a rodeo. His firefighting career began in Denison and then he transferred to the Metroplex for a year. Jason found that the money in the Metroplex was better, but he missed being in the Texoma area, so he returned and worked as a firefighter in Bonham for four years, before moving back to the Denison department in 2012.
Jason worked under Lt. Dusty Baker while he was in Bonham.
“When my dad passed away, Dusty went above and beyond to help me through it,” Jason said. “He showed me what it was like to have a true brother in the fire service.”
On a snowy Valentine's night in 2004, a car carrying several teenage girls flipped off the dam at Randell Lake and landed upside down in the water. All but one girl managed to get out of the car, which rested in 10 feet of water.
In those days, the department had no diving team or diving gear, so Jason and another firefighter dove into the water in their uniforms. Two other firefighters/paramedics were in the waiting ambulance. Both divers struggled to open the door on the front passenger side of the car, where the last girl was positioned.
“Our adrenaline kept us from freezing while we worked to get the girl out of the car. We'd come up for air and go back down, only to have the air be forced out of our lungs each time we tried to force the door open. Once we got her out of the car and into the ambulance, the freezing cold hit us hard!”
Sadly, the young girl didn't survive, and Jason will not soon forget that night.
Today, Capt. Brazil provides encouragement to his men even in the most difficult of times.
Jason drives to Denison from his home in Blue Ridge and arrives at 5 a.m. to work out for an hour at the firehouse gym, owned by a Denison firefighter. His 24-hour shift begins at 7 a.m. Like most of the firefighters, Brazil works 24 hours on duty and 48 hours off duty. Although he sometimes misses his children's ballgames and special events, he likes the hours. Some larger departments in big cities are going to 48 hours on duty and 96 hours off duty.
“I couldn't be away from my family for 48 hours,” he said as he shook his head.
Like most firefighters, Jason uses his 48 hours to make extra money. He runs a herd of Angus cattle at his home in Blue Ridge, and he laughingly says, “I come back to work to rest.”
In 2006, all of the fire department stations in Denison were gripped in grief when one of their own firefighters died in a fire. The young rookie, whose dad was also on the force, was killed when an awning collapsed and fell on him. His father never returned to work.
Emergencies and tragedies involving children are always difficult for the men. Jason immediately calls and talks to his children after such situations. He advises rookies to do the same.
Family and Black Angus cows provide a release for Jason from the emotional toll and mental stress that he faces as a firefighter/paramedic. His said his uncle always said, “When it's just me, the tractor, and the fresh plowed dirt, all my troubles go away.”