NORMAN — A television show inspired Dana Cramer to become a firefighter.
“My parents were involved in the community,” Cramer said. “My dad was an Optimist member. I thought it (being a firefighter) was a good way to get involved in the community.”
Cramer also enjoyed hit television show, “Emergency!”
“That made it intriguing,” he said. “I thought it would be interesting and a great way to help people.”
Cramer has dedicated his life to helping people, as a firefighter riding the truck to suppress fires and in a number of roles including as a trainer, teaching up and coming firefighters how to protect themselves and others.
“There’s something new every day,” he said.
Maybe that’s why he’s been at it for over three decades. Cramer has worked for the city of Norman’s fire department since 1978. The department has doubled in that time.
“The department’s gotten a lot bigger,” Cramer said. “We have 163 approved positions right now.”
When he started in 1978, Cramer was paid $3.05 an hour. His first day of work was Sept. 11, after raises had been approved in July.
Improvements in technology and equipment have made the job safer and easier over the years. Airpacks were new in 1978, Cramer said. Now airpacks are refined personal alerts built in with safety warnings and heat alarms.
Fire trucks are safer too. Modern fire fighters wear seat belts.
“We used to stand on the back and hang on,” he said. “Everything is a lot safer and better built.”
The number of Norman fire stations has doubled also.
“When I hired on, they were just fixing to open up (Fire Station) No. 4,” he said. “There were 12 guys in my class — 12 litter mates — we’re all brothers.”
Cramer is the “sole survivor” of the litter, he said. The others have all retired.