He joined at age 17. Started as a junior firefighter, then graduated to “senior” status when he turned 18.
Somewhere along this journey, Briseno and the high school he was attending ended up on separate paths. He followed through and earned a GED—primarily because of encouragement from Lloyd Wientjes, chief of the GWVFD.
As far as good decisions, joining George West’s volunteer fire department was one of his best, Briseno said.
“At the department we’ve worked house fires and grass fires where we can joke around,” Briseno said during an interview last week. “I am going to miss that the most. Everybody is family here.”
Briseno recently joined the United States Army to become a member of the Military Police. His last day in town prior to training was Monday.
Last week, his colleagues in the George West Volunteer Fire Department bid him a fond farewell.
Briseno will definitely be missed, if the subsequent feedback on the GWVFD Facebook page was any indication:
• Briseno: “I’m really going to miss the FD and the life lessons I’ve learned thanks for the eight most beautiful years of my life to all my brothers and sisters at the GWVFD.”
• Responded Esmerelda Saenz Pierce: “You certainly did grow up in the department and you were always eager to learn from the get go. This I know: You can do the same in the Army. Good Luck!”
• Viola Crouch: “Be careful and thank you...you are truly a HERO!!!”
When Briseno departed Monday, he was en route to San Antonio and, eventually, basic training and advanced individual training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. He expects basic and AIT to be finished in about 19 weeks or so.
He believes the challenges presented by the George West VFD, grass fires, full-fledged fires, rescues and whatnot, were an excellent introduction to the types of calamity he could face as an Army MP.
Lloyd Wientjes, chief of the GWVFD said he had the pleasure of watching Briseno grow into a very responsible man during his eight years with the department.
“He started off as this really young guy who didn’t know that much, but he put his head down and learned and went through fire training schools and became a really good fireman,” the chief said. “He became really dependable.”
Fire Chief Wientjes said at one point, the lessons started really sinking in and Briseno became a mentor to younger firefighters—two of whom are still in high school and only allowed to participate on a restricted basis because of their age.
“I wished him (Briseno) well, and I really hate to see him go, but I believe he is making a good move,” the chief said. “He learned of brotherhood through out department. And he’s going somewhere where brotherhood still means quite a bit.”