As a kid growing up I always heard stories about the Brake men and how my father, grandfather, and even great-grandfather all worked as fire sprinkler fitters. Way before I was born, my grandfather, Roger Sr., who was working for Grinnell at the time, moved from Georgia to Bridgeport, Connecticut to do a job there. He and his young family moved north and never went back.
I remember for years my father purchased used gang boxes, threading machines and various hand tools and stored them in our garage. I didn't know it at the time, but he was planning on doing for himself what he had been doing for others. In 1978, he took a step of faith and gave his notice to the Mitchell and Bailey Company in Bridgeport where he had been running their fire sprinkler division and ventured out on his own. He traded in his shirt and tie for a pair of coveralls and that year Brake Fire Protection, Inc. was born.
I was in high school at the time and I remember working in the shop threading 1" drops and painting the tools he’d been saving in our garage the now BFPI signature "safety orange". I knew at that time that after college I wanted to come back and work with Dad, not necessarily as a fitter, but as a designer. In 1988 after graduating from LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas with a degree in Design Technology and Business I did just that.
At first, I worked under my father, then alongside, and eventually took over from him. Dad had to retire from the business he began, and the work he loved, because of Parkinson's disease. On May 3, 2018 he also had to retire from this life. My dad loved work and would rather work than do almost anything, except maybe flying.
Dad is now free from Parkinson's Disease and with God because of his faith in Jesus and his belief in passages of Scripture like John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." I know he is proud of what he started and what I continue. Dad built Brake Fire Protection on Christian moral principles and I learned through his example to treat people with respect and integrity. I strive to continue in his footsteps. Please let me know how I'm doing. If you have any questions or comments please e-mail me by clicking on this link or at JIM@BRAKEFIRE.com and I will personally reply to you in a timely manner.