May 13. It is a day that Central County Fire & Rescue (CCFR) Assistant Chief Brian Ochs will never forget. Nearly 50 years ago, on May 13, 1969, two St. Charles Township Volunteer firefighters were tragically killed in a fire truck accident. On May 13, 2018, Ochs will honor these friends as he hangs up his gear one final time and retires from the fire service.
“I was supposed to be on that call in 1969, but I wasn’t. I have carried memories of that night with me for nearly 50 years, and it has guided me to make safety the top priority no matter what. Everyone needs to go home after every call,” says Ochs.
If you ask Ochs about his biggest accomplishment as an Assistant Chief, he replies with a simple statement, “Everybody went home,” he says.
“Brian has made an immeasurable impact on our community and our fire district. All of us here at Central County have learned so much from him and his experience in the fire service. We are going to miss having him here,” says CCFR Chief Dan Aubuchon.
When Ochs first joined the fire service as a volunteer in 1967, there were less than 100,000 residents in St. Charles County, and there was more farmland than neighborhoods and commercial development. He has seen the community and the fire service change dramatically over 51 years.
“The biggest single change I have seen is in how we communicate. We used to have a pager that told you where to go. Now, we have access to so much information before we even arrive on the scene, and we have the details we need to respond faster and more efficiently,” he says. “The training required and equipment we have access to has also changed dramatically.”
As the Assistant Chief of Operations Ochs is responsible for the daily and long-term management and staffing of suppression personnel. He is also responsible for buildings, apparatus and firefighting equipment and responds to all first alarm or special alarms within the fire district.
Born and raised in St. Charles, Ochs joined St. Charles Fire Protection District (SCFPD) as a junior firefighter in 1967. Before becoming Chief of SCFPD in 1990, he served as a police officer in St. Charles County as well as volunteer Chief of SCFPD. In 1998, after the consolidation of St. Charles Fire Protection District and St. Peters Fire Protection District, he became an Assistant Chief for Central County Fire and Rescue.
“You can’t do something for 51 years and just walk away. I’m going to miss all of it, but it’s time for someone else to have a chance to lead,” he says.
Ochs will be honored at a retirement luncheon on Friday, May 11 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at CCFR Fire Station #1, 1 Timberbrook Dr., St. Peters, MO 63376.