When Brian Anderson thinks of heroes, he imagines the brave women and men in uniform who risk their lives to protect our freedoms. But in Windsor, Brian is a hero in his own right. Just a few months ago, he bravely risked his life to save a family from a burning house.
Brian is a Waste Water Operator for the Town of Windsor and a member of Teamsters 856. He retired from the Sonoma County Water Agency after 34 and a half years, but decided to go back to work to put his knowledge and experience to good use.
One spring afternoon, as Brian was going about his daily work routine, he noticed smoke coming from the top of a building. He immediately turned down the street to get a better grasp of the situation.
As he approached the home in his vehicle, Brian made the heroic decision to go in and get the attention of any of its occupants to ensure they weren’t consumed by the smoke and flames. “I saw the silhouette of a woman carrying a child,” said Brian. “She was very distraught. I helped her out of what was pretty thick smoke.”
Brian got the woman and her child to safety outside the home, and as he did so, he repeatedly asked whether other people were inside. She told him there were people in the back of the property, as well.
“I went into the back of the house, and saw nothing. Then I saw a tool shed in the back where two young adults were sleeping, and I got them up and out.”
Brian stayed with the mother and child, and tried to keep them calm as they all waited for emergency services to arrive.
“Nobody wants to see anyone perish,” said Brian when asked what caused him to step in and take action in the face of danger. “To me it’s how I was raised. I’m going to step in and help, and hopefully someone will stop and help me someday.”
Brian was raised in a farming community in Sonoma where he said helping was part of the culture. “You knew everyone, from the front of the town to the end of the town,” he said. “We helped each other. We didn’t even think twice about it.”
Since the fire, Brian has received commendations for his heroism from the Town of Windsor and the fire department. Yet despite the praise for his actions, he plays down the hero title.
“I can accept it now,” he said. “I know that I was a hero to that family, because they are alive today and something worse didn’t happen, but my vision of a hero is someone who lays down their lives for me and my family so we can be free.”
When asked if he would do it again, Brian replied simply: “No question.”