The Dart: Firefighter’s journey took him to California; now he’s home

Published 8:00 am Saturday, June 11, 2022

Firefighter and business owner Patrick Earl worked behind Brookhaven Fire Station No. 2 on First Street, close to where The Dart landed Friday morning. He is a Brookhaven native and graduate of Brookhaven High School.

His journey to becoming a firefighter was unexpected. Earl said he kind of flew in as The Dart did. After starting college, he decided he would rather work.

Life working in a warehouse was not exciting to him, so he started his own trucking business 13 years ago called Tip Toe Express. The business took him all over the country, he said.

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“There were plenty of challenges. There were some good days and some bad days. Traffic and the weather are the hardest challenges,” he said. “I did get to travel and see the world. I went all the way out to California on I-10.”

His time on the highway kept him away from his kids. About three years ago, he sold the trucking business and started Tip Toe Farms, a land clearing, and landscaping business.

At the same time, he decided to become a firefighter. One of his friends referred him to the Brookhaven Fire Department. He became a firefighter by passing the physical tests and completing seven weeks of school.

“I could lie and say it was a childhood dream, but I had never thought about it,” Earl said. “I wanted to be home with my two kids and spend time with my family. The highway life doesn’t give you much time.”

Friday morning was slow as they weren’t doing much besides maintenance and clean-up. Firefighters have to be alert and ready at all times, he said.

A day may have two or three wrecks or fire calls, or they may have none. Everything is up in the air, he said. They get to work out and train during downtime.

Earl pointed out the three grills underneath an awning behind the firehouse. He said they love to cook in their downtime as well. His favorite meal to cook is fried catfish with baked beans, potato salad and french fries.

Free time, outside Tip Toe Farms and firefighting nine 24-hour shifts a month, is spent watching his kids play football and baseball. He said he also likes to fish.

Goals are what keep him going when he is tired. He wants to grow his career with the Fire Department and grow his business.

Family is what has kept him in Brookhaven.

“I still have my grandparents and parents here,” Earl said. “I like it here. It is slow, but I like it here. After being gone so many years on the road, being back is a good thing.”