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By Marin Munos        

The frequency of calls at the station vary, but normally the weekends are busier. © Marin Munos 2018

Feet thump the ground as men rush to gear up; working together like a well-oiled machine. The sirens begin to blare as the bright red truck pulls out of the brick fire station.  A man jumps into the passenger side seat, off to help someone in need.  That man is Bob Haller.

“Bob is the kind of leader I would trust going into any situation with, which says a lot given our line of work,” said Benjamin Norberg, a firefighter at Station 6.

Haller has worked at Fire Station 6 for the past ten years, and he is one of six fire captains in Eau Claire. Haller began his career in public service thirty years ago. When he was young, Haller was a Boy Scout and upon high school graduation, he joined the Marine Corps. When Haller left the Marine Corps, he drifted from job to job. Before Haller became a firefighter, he was lost, looking for fulfillment in his life.

“In late 1999, Bob was very unhappy in his work and he wanted to return to school to start a career he could enjoy, and he could provide better for our family,” said Nancy Haller, Haller’s wife.

“When I met my future wife, and we started deciding to have a family, I knew the bouncing around from job to job just wasn’t going to cut it,” said Haller.

 

The need to find a steady and grounded career became paramount to Haller.  The only requirement Haller placed on his search for a career was that he wanted to help people, but he didn’t want people to fear him. Haller says that he didn’t want to be the police officer people were afraid to call because they might be arrested, and his decision led him to firefighting.

“Nobody hates fire fighters,” said Haller. “It’s because we aren’t there to judge people, we’re there to help people.”

Haller knew he wanted to be the helping hand for his community, so he became a volunteer fire fighter in a local township fire department. Haller worked as a paramedic for ten years at Station 5 with his partner Mike Miller. Haller then took his paramedic skills and moved to Station 6. Now he is the fire captain of Station 6 and has served in this position for a little less than a year.

“I knew I needed to find a career path,” said Haller. “This unknown force kind of pulled me into this.”

Before a firefighter can become a 1st class firefighter they go through a probationary period so see if they fit well at the station they are placed at. © Marin Munos 2018

Since Haller’s youth, he has been surrounded by fire fighters. The first time Haller saw a fireman was when he was 10 years old. His dad died, and the fire department was called. His best friend was hit by a car when they were walking to school and he was right there when the fire department arrived. Haller found himself drawn to becoming the person saving people. Seeing people need the fire department has given him a unique perspective he says.

“All of a sudden I found myself doing that job (fire-fighting) and I think that it gives me a little more of a unique perspective than someone who have never seen someone have a stroke or go into cardiac arrest or even [use] drugs because it gives me compassion,” he said.

“He cares deeply about the Fire Department and the people he works with,” says Nancy Haller. “Bob firmly believes it is his job to make sure everyone he works with goes home safely to their families and I believe that is the same goal of the people he works with.”

Haller says he loves his job, but he is not doing it to get rich. The life of a public employee isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, says Haller, adding, it isn’t what you’ve seen on TV. He has seen it all, from people sleeping in their vomit for three days to little kids in need of an ambulance. That’s what keeps him motivated, his drive to help his community and its people.

Mike Miller is Haller’s engineer at Station 6. Along with being Haller’s engineer Miller is also Haller’s friend. Miller says Haller is fair and reasonable, but he also keeps things interesting.

There are only three female firefighters in Eau Claire, it is a predominantly male dominated profession. © Marin Munos 2018

“There is never a dull moment,” Miller said. “Bob has some really good qualities that make it easy to work for him.” Miller says “Haller is a dedicated fire captain and loves what he does. He stays motivated through his need to help others and doesn’t want to do anything else.”

“The best days are the days when everything goes right, and everyone comes home safe,” says Haller.

“There is no better job in the world.”

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No Judgement, Just Service