A (Fire)truck Load of Good Memories

From their earliest days as children to their final weeks of high school, the Niemann twins seek the firefighter life as their career, just like their father and grandpa before them.


Photo courtesy of Keith Niemann

From left to right, Hunter Niemann, Keith Niemann, and Braden Niemann for a photo while in their firefighting gear. “When I was promoted to LT they came up as toddlers, they were playing on the hosebed of my engine when a first due house fire came out so we had to quickly heard them off the hosebed so we could get to the fire,” Keith Niemann said. “Now that they are older they can come ride out and take part in training, it’s cool sharing the fun aspects of the job with them.”

Piper Pinnetti, Editor-In-Chief

From playing varsity football to lugging over forty pounds of firefighting gear and learning the science behind the flames, Braden and Hunter Niemann are very similar in their hobbies and what they are passionate about.

Both brothers are living their career adventure everyday as they pursue careers in firefighting.

From the time they were children, the Niemann brothers grew up around the famous red trucks. Their father, Keith Niemann, advanced quickly in the firefighter profession over the years, now serving as a field officer after five years of working Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and then 21 years of firefighting afterwards. 

“When they were born they were premature and spent a couple months in the hospital. My firehouse was just down the street so I would hang out on duty so I could go in and see them,” Keith Niemann said. “When they got out, we stopped by my firehouse on their way home to see my crew so it was the first place outside of a hospital they visited.”

From their first visit to the firehouse as newborns to later in their childhood, the Niemann kids spent much of their time with their dad at the station making family memories while Keith was on shift.

“When we were kids, our mom and dad would have work, and we would not always have a babysitter. So we would go to the fire station with our dad and play with some of the equipment,” Hunter Niemann said. 

The soon to be graduates are currently training to follow in their father’s footsteps and are now the third generation of Niemanns to continue into firefighting after their family moved to America during The Great Depression and then soon after World War II. 

The firefighting career in the Niemann line began almost 100 years ago with Greg Niemann, the chief of a volunteer department when Keith Niemann was growing up. After being surrounded with fire trucks and gear for life, Keith Niemann sees the skills and traits needed for firefighting in both of his sons.

“It takes a combination of intelligence, common sense, problem solving, and athleticism to do this job well. They both have those traits,” Keith Niemann said. “Just like they have done well in team sports many of those same skills transfer well to working for fire, such as preparing for what you expect before the call happens, reading what the fire is giving you and adjusting that plan on the fly, then working hard to implement that plan.”

Running, lifting, quick thinking, and even teamwork is required when working with fires and emergencies. If there is confusion, something will go wrong. For the Niemann twins, football has prepared them for working together with a team, and they are looking forward to working with another one after high school in the field.

“You build lots of relationships with the people at your stations, so you’re always doing something with your friends and there’s a big teamwork aspect to firefighting. It’s a lot of coordination and chemistry with them, it’s really enjoyable. It’s like another family,” Braden Niemann said.

“We did a search and rescue that was really fun. Everything was filled with smoke, they put covers on our eyes so you couldn’t see anything,” Braden Niemann said. “We had to feel our way around the house to find a dummy. So we felt through the entire house, and then we found the person, or dummy, who was down and had to pick them up and drag them out. That was super cool.”

This specific drill teaches future firefighters how to go through a house without getting delayed by couches, furniture, or other obstacles during a timely and dangerous situation and to get to anyone they need to as quickly as possible before serious health damage occurs to them or another person. When fires produce too much smoke, no one can see and this becomes problematic for everyone involved at the scene.

Other tricks and methods such as ventilation and moving flames away from a person in danger are the beginning steps to help train them for their future day job.

Right now we are in the EMT class because in Wichita, to be a firefighter, you need to have your firefighting training and your EMT training before you can apply,” said Hunter Niemann. “

People from Oklahoma, Missouri, and other areas nearby will come to Wichita to join the prestigious Wichita Fire Department (WFD).  Working in a larger city also means a higher salary than a majority of the jobs available for firefighters in the area. A larger metropolitan area offers more career opportunities and advancement in the field as well.

“It can take a few years before a person leaves the station- for whatever reason- and you can get in because you can only have a certain amount of people in,” Hunter Nieman said. “Bigger cities get more fires.”

In any given year, a fire station can have hundreds of applicants. In reality, a station usually only hires 10-15 people at once. Career and Technical education courses offered at Maize Career Academy provide the boys a head start from a training and educational standpoint that other new firefighters may not have access to before they enter the field.

“We are certified through Hutch with the director,” Braden Niemann said. “This way, EMT and fire classes are free, everything is free except for boards to work. If I go to Hutch and do my final testing, I’ll pay around $80 total for all my testing done.”

From their first outside experience to their specific training in the classroom and mock fire scenarios in the field, this is only the start of their firefighting adventures.

One inspired by their family members who took the Firefighters Pledge years before the Niemann twins were even born.

“I want to help people,” Hunter Niemann said. “You show up on everyone’s worst days and to be there and help them when they need you the most is what I want to do.”