Generations of firefighters
It is not unusual to hear about children following in their parent’s footsteps, or even following the same career path as someone in their immediate family. But for the Petau family, not one, not two, but several generations have chosen the same path. They are a family of firefighters.
“The first person in my family that I know of was my great, great uncle, John Healy,” said Dave Petau, a Hidden Pointe resident. “John Francis Healy (1873-1945) was the Denver Fire Department’s chief for 33 years, from 1912 to 1945. He was one of the longest-serving fire chiefs in Denver’s history.”
But Dave said it was spending time with his father, Richard Petau, at the firehouse that sparked his love for firefighting.
“I grew up in the firehouse. I remember spending lots of time with my dad doing everything from riding along with him and spending the night to having winter baseball practices in their bunk room,” remembered Dave. “I remember the firetruck showing up to my little league baseball games and always thinking how cool it was.”
When he was about 16, Dave felt the calling. “I had other thoughts about being a high school teacher and baseball coach but ultimately the draw of being a firefighter won out.”
Richard joined the Englewood Fire Department in 1975 and worked his way up through the ranks. He was a firefighter, a paramedic, an engineer (driver), lieutenant, battalion chief, and ultimately became the deputy chief. He went through the Denver Fire Academy at 63 years old and ultimately ended up in dispatch until he retired from there. He then became a fire inspector for the City of Englewood where he continues to work today.
Dave’s brother, Kyle Petau, is a lieutenant with North Metro Fire Rescue (in the Broomfield and Northglenn area). Additionally, Dave and Kyle’s half-brother Keegan Petau works with South Metro Fire Rescue (SMFR), and Keegan’s twin, Coby Petau, is a firefighter in Castle Rock.
Dave started with Littleton Fire Rescue, and today, he is a captain with SMFR.
“What I really think makes this interesting is looking at it from my dad’s perspective; he chose a career and all four of his sons have followed in his footsteps,” remembered Dave. “I know he is proud of all of us and would have supported us in any career we chose, but the fact that all of us are firefighters, I think makes him especially proud.”
And it speaks volumes about the Petau family’s love for serving their communities.
By Karen Leigh; photos courtesy of the Petau family