Fathers often dream of their sons following them into their line of work, and daughters have been known to follow their mothers in their careers. We don’t often hear of a son and daughter following their father into the same job as firefighters, but that’s what’s happened in Bellevue.
Battalion Chief Doug Halbert recently welcomed his 27-year-old daughter Emily and 25-year-old son Sam to the Bellevue Fire Department in 2022. Both of the Halbert children work as EMTs and firefighters, just like their father did.
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Doug has been with Bellevue Fire for 35 years, he said it’s because he wanted to be like his own father.
“My father was a Battalion Chief in Seattle,” Doug said. “He worked 30 years and retired in 1991. So this is now a third generation of (Halbert) firefighters.”
Doug Halbert did try to make sure he never tried to pressure his kids into following in his footsteps.
“I have never been a person to sell the fire department to anyone,” Doug said. “I have just always had extreme job satisfaction.”
In fact, daughter Emily says she’s known since she was a little girl she wanted to become a firefighter.
“Right before I was hired, I found a journal entry from when I was like 9 or 10 years old about how I wanted to be a firefighter when I grew up,” Emily said. “So, yeah, I’ve kind of grown up wanting to pursue the career.”
For Sam, it was the camaraderie of being in a firefighting battalion that called to him the most.
“I was on the rowing team at the University of Washington, and being around a group of guys with that teamwork aspect really drives me and I know my Dad had that same experience,” Sam said.
Despite their enthusiasm for their chosen careers, both Sam and Emily went to college for other professions. But, ultimately, Doug says they were drawn to him and his chosen career.
“Independently they came to me and said – ‘hey, I’m thinking about this’ – and I explained to them what it isn’t, what it is, the good parts of the job, and the bad,” Doug said.
Whatever he said, he sold both of them on Bellevue Fire. It’s a job Emily says she is thrilled to do.
“I knew it was going to be a lot of work, a lot of training, but it’s been so fun.” Emily was all smiles when she added, “I still can’t believe I get paid to do this.”
Even though they’re all in the same department, Doug, Emily, and Sam don’t have too many opportunities to work together, but the kids treasure the times they’ve spent on calls and on the fire lines with their father.
“It was my first day,” Sam said. “He snagged an overtime spot and worked my first day on the line. He was my officer. It was pretty awesome!”
“It was good. It was, like, calming to have him there because obviously, when you are first on probation (as a new hire), you don’t know what to expect when you hit the line,” she said.
Doug loves sharing the experiences he’s had over the decades as a firefighter with his children.
“It’s really exciting to see it through their eyes and to just hear their excitement when the training they’ve completed pays off,” he said.
The family has a few other milestones to celebrate this year. Doug is celebrating his 30th wedding anniversary this month. Emily got married in April, and Sam is also about to tie the knot.
There are two younger daughters in the Halbert family – no more firefighters, though, at least not yet.