Firefighting a family affair for Brode brood

The Brode family of firefighters, include, from left, Kenny Brode, Dan McLaughlin, Harold Brode, Jason Brode, Robbie Brode and 7-year-old Robert “Bubba” Brode. Members of the family currently serve with Harrington Fire Company Station 50 and Clayton Fire Company No. 1 Station 45. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

The Brode family of firefighters, include, from left, Kenny Brode, Dan McLaughlin, Harold Brode, Jason Brode, Robbie Brode and 7-year-old Robert “Bubba” Brode. Members of the family currently serve with Harrington Fire Company Station 50 and Clayton Fire Company No. 1 Station 45. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

HARRINGTON — The draw toward firefighting is simple, says one 51-year veteran.

“Just helping people,” Harold Brode said. “You don’t get in it for joy, you just want to help somebody.

“When you arrive at a fire scene there are people leaving a place for their safety and a firefighter is going into that place.

“I think that says a lot about a firefighter’s commitment to his community.”

While “I wish I could do more than I can now,” Mr. Brode, age 69, is still contributing greatly to public safety through his younger family members.

The next generation of Mr. Brode’s extended family has Kent County covered at the most northern and southern parts of Kent County.

Mr. Brode’s three sons, two nephews and a brother remain vital to Harrington Fire Company Station 50 operations in lower Kent County.

There’s more family in the top of the county, with two members currently active at Clayton Fire Company No. 1 Station 45 and a legacy left by their late parents.

Add it all up and the related Brode and Carrow families have served Harrington and Clayton communities for more than five decades.

The Clayton connection comes from Mr. Brode’s late wife Cindy, the daughter of legendary past chief and president the late William R. “Ace” Carrow. Her late mother Manetta was a life member of Clayton’s Ladies Auxiliary.

Inspired by ‘Ace’

When Mr. Brode married into the Carrow family in 1971, a new wave of first responders was the eventual result. Mentor “Ace” inspired him to become even more deeply involved in the fire service, a dedication eventually passed to the Brode children and enduring today.

“I had been in for six years but it really gave me more drive when I was around ‘Ace’,” Mr. Brode said.

From there, Mr. Brode became one of only four Harrington FC members ever to serve as fire chief, president and ambulance captain.

The fine example set by Mr. Brode has carried on — sons Derrick, Kenny and Robbie are active members who have

From left, Jason Brode, Dan McLaughlin, “Bubba” Brode, Robbie Brode and Kenny Brode are proud to serve the Harrington Fire Co.

From left, Jason Brode, Dan McLaughlin, “Bubba” Brode, Robbie Brode and Kenny Brode are proud to serve the Harrington Fire Co.

served a multitude of high level positions with Harrington FC.

“He taught not just me, but my two brothers and other family members the importance of serving your community,” Kenny Brode said.

“He instilled in us about serving others before ourselves and also instilled in us honesty, courtesy and dedication.

Throughout the years, he has always displayed the highest form of integrity and honesty and he is probably one of the hardest working people I ever met.”

Robbie Brode said he’s “trying to continue the work ethic they installed,” for the next generation; that includes his 7-year-old son, who is a regular at the fire station and at other events.

Mr. Brode joined Harrington FC in June 1965, a week after graduating from Harrington High School. He later became a Delaware State Police trooper, Army National Guard member, Levy Court commissioner and county register of wills.

After retiring from the Delaware State Police in 1989, Mr. Brode became an investigator for the Dover-based Schmittinger and Rodriguez Law Firm, where he still works today.

The unsung hero

Never forgotten is the “unsung hero of the family” according to Mr. Brode and sons — Cindy.

“Cindy was the one who kept us going,” Mr. Brode said.

Kenny Brode expanded on those thoughts, describing his mother as “another person who taught us these traits that we have carried with us throughout our lives.

Harold, left, at 69, and Bill, at 63, are the oldest members of Brode brood of firefighters. Harold Brode has served for 51 years.

Harold, left, at 69, and Bill, at 63, are the oldest members of Brode brood of firefighters. Harold Brode has served for 51 years.

“I can say 100 percent that our parents truly made us the men we are today and we would not be where we are without them raising us the way they did and for that I am truly blessed and honored to have such loving and wonderful parents.”

With all his accomplishments, Mr. Brode believes his sons have and will do more to benefit Harrington’s community.

“They were way ahead of me,” he said. “They became officers at such a young age; I didn’t start until later in my career.”

Cindy, a nurse at Genesis Silver Lake Center in Dover and life member of the Ladies Auxiliary who died in September 2015, was credited for providing food and drink for first responders at any time of the day or night when needed; she encouraged members to stop by the Brode home if they were in need.

“You didn’t ever want to be a first responder who turned down her invitation,” Mr. Brode said.

The family tradition remains strong today, serving without hesitation.

“You don’t want to be at the dinner table when the fire whistle goes off because the room clears out in a hurry,” Mr. Brode said.

‘Unbreakable bond’

An unbreakable bond forms among longtime fire company members, professionally and personally.

“You meet people who become your friends and these friends remain with you your entire life,” Kenny Brode said.”

“One of the best things about the fire service is that no matter what happens in your life, the members are always there to support you.

“I can tell you that when I went through my daughter being sick, my divorce and family members passing away, the guys from the fire company, not just in Harrington but throughout the state, have always been there to support me and my family.

“It’s a brotherhood that most people will never understand unless they are a part of it like being in the military or a police officer.

“You can go from arguing and goofing off at the firehouse to the next second responding to a call and each of us depend on each other and have each other’s backs.

“Its like your family, you protect each other no matter what.”

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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