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Captain Brian Gardner Retires After 26 Years Of Service
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By Firefighter Mark Robertson Sr.
June 26, 2023

On the afternoon of June 22nd, the department honored Captain Brian Gardner for his retirement after 26 years of service. Many of Brian's family, friends, and colleagues were in attendance at the ceremony. Captain Gardner started with the department as a volunteer in February of 1997. Brian was hired full-time in September of 2001, and was promoted to Captain in 2005. While serving as Captain he was instrumental in overseeing many programs and projects in the department.

Brian has also been a Level 2 Fire Instructor at the Burlington County Emergency Services Training Center since 2004. He is currently on the staff as a Senior Fire Instructor. Brian also served as a past treasurer and 2nd Vice-President of the Burlington County Professional Firefighters Association IAFF - Local 3091.

Captain Gardner's knowledge and leadership will be missed in the firehouse. We wish him and his family well in their future endeavors. His full biography is as follows:

Brian Gardner has been a firefighter for 30 years. 26 of those years were spent in Willingboro. Brian is married to his amazing wife of 17 years, Melissa. They have 3 children, Grace, Charley, and Cooper. Their family also shares their love and their home with their foster daughter Rosie.

Brian was born just outside of Atlanta Georgia and shortly thereafter moved to Rockland Massachusetts. In 1980 his father’s job moved them back to Georgia. Albany, Georgia was Brian’s home through high school and college. In 1992 Brian enlisted in the United States Air Force and was assigned as an aircraft mechanic “Crew Chief” to Altus Air Force Base, Altus, Oklahoma. He served 4 years in the Air Force where he reached the rank of E4 Senior Airman.

It was in Altus that Brian began in the fire service. He rented a house in Martha, OK from the volunteer fire chief. The chief put into the rental agreement that all tenants had to join the Martha Volunteer Fire Department. Brian kept his end of the agreement and joined the department. He attended basic fire school through Oklahoma State University and quickly decided that being a firefighter was what he was supposed to do with his life.

Around 1995 Brian met Bryan Kriger a United States Air Force police officer and fellow Martha volunteer firefighter. Kriger was also a Willingboro firefighter before joining the Air Force, and they became fast friends. Both were getting out of the Air Force around the same time and Kriger invited Brian to come to Willingboro NJ. Brian separated from the Air Force and moved to Massachusetts, where he enlisted in the Massachusetts Air National Guard and began training as a medic. Once his training was completed, he took Bryan Kriger up on his offer and moved to New Jersey.

Brian joined the Willingboro Fire Department as a volunteer in February of 1997. During his time as a volunteer, he served as Lieutenant and Fire Commissioner. In 1999 He was hired by Westampton Fire and EMS before being hired in September of 2001 by the Willingboro Fire Dept. In 2005 Brian was promoted to the rank of Captain. Brian has overseen many programs and projects during his tenure to include leading the training division, serving as head grant writer, writing several grants the department has been awarded saving the township hundreds of thousands of dollars, writing and updating all department SOG’s and SOP’s. Leading the development, training, and the equipping of the department’s rescue task force team.

Brian has served as an Instructor Level 2 staff instructor for the Burlington County Emergency Services Training Center (BCESTC) from 2004 to 2017. In 2017 he was promoted to Senior Instructor, a position he still holds today. Early in Brian’s career he was very active in the Burlington County Professional FF Association - IAFF local 3091 serving as treasurer and 1st and 2nd Vice-President.

Brian has been received several awards and citations during his career such as:

Unit Citation (2 times)
VFW Firefighter of the Year (2 times)
Meritorious Service Award

After retirement Brian plans to spend as much time with his family down the shore. He will continue to be involved in the fire service through his position at the BCESTC.

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