BNL Home

By Jane Koropsakshare:

Meet Brookhaven Lab's Female Firefighters

Danielle Golden and Aubrie Andenmatten

Click on the image to download a high-resolution version. Brookhaven National Laboratory firefighters Danielle Golden (left) and Aubrie Andenmatten

Firefighters at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory work rotating 24-hour shifts, seven days a week, 365 days a year, to protect Lab employees, visitors, and the Lab site—it isn’t an easy job. Responding rapidly and safely to fires and hazardous events, as well as treating sick or injured employees and visitors, requires innumerable classroom and hands-on training classes and certifications. And our Lab firefighters take it all very seriously.

Add to those responsibilities the inspection of more than 900 fire extinguishers located throughout the site, inspecting fire-rescue vehicles and tools, checking for electrical hazards in offices and experimental areas, flushing hydrants, examining AEDs (automated external defibrillators—portable electronic devices that automatically diagnose life-threatening cardiac situations and can treat them through defibrillation), and working with the Lab’s plumbers to make sure that fire protection systems are in perfect working order. The firefighters also provide mutual aid (assistance to local fire departments outside the Lab) for fire and medical emergencies.

It’s an enormous job, and it’s an important one.

Read more about it from two of the Lab’s firefighters: Danielle Golden and Aubrie Andenmatten.

Meet Danielle Golden

Danielle Golden

Click on the image to download a high-resolution version. Danielle Golden

Danielle Golden initially began her career as a dental assistant, but soon after the birth of her fourth child she became a volunteer firefighter in her hometown of Greenport, NY. She got “hooked” on firefighting and knew that she wanted to do something more challenging.

With support from her family, Golden started taking training classes at the Suffolk County Fire Academy in Yaphank. “I actually brought my three-month old daughter with me for two weeks of classroom training,” said Golden. “Everyone at the Academy was very supportive. Juggling my family’s schedules with work, school, sports, and the kids' activities while volunteering at the Greenport Fire Department and taking fire and emergency medical training (EMT) wasn’t easy, but I was determined!” It was during one of those trainings at the Fire Academy that Golden met two Lab firefighters.

“After speaking with them, I became even more enthusiastic and knew the Lab would be a perfect fit for me,” she said. “And here I am today enjoying every minute of the Lab—from the firefighting and emergency medical response to the extraordinary science and the amazing people I have met during my 13 years here.”

While conducting the interview at the Lab’s firehouse for this story, a phone rang and firefighter Golden said, “Oh, hold on a second. That’s the deuces.” After a few seconds she said, “It looks like we’re ok.”

Golden, together with all the Lab fire fighters, are keenly tuned-in to everything around them, including the ring of the “deuce” telephone, the nickname for extension 2222—the number at the Lab that people on site dial to report a possible emergency.

Had it been a true emergency, the interview would have quickly ended and Golden would have put on her firefighting gear, boarded a firetruck, and went with her crew to do what they do best: protect employees, visitors, and the Lab site.

“I love people, teamwork, and a challenge,” said Golden. “I don’t consider myself a trailblazer. I am doing my job as a firefighter and an EMT. My advice to women is to select a career that you love and make it happen. You’ll have no regrets.”

When she’s not on shift, you can find Golden swimming or biking and spending time with her family. She also volunteers for Child Protection Services as an approved supervisor for visitation of children who are experiencing family difficulties.

“I wouldn’t change anything about the path I chose,” said Golden.

Meet Aubrie Andenmatten

Aubrie Andenmatten

Click on the image to download a high-resolution version. Aubrie Andenmatten

Aubrie Andenmatten is a new employee at the Lab, joining the Lab’s fire-rescue group this past October.

“So far, I am enjoying every minute of getting to know more about the uniqueness of the Laboratory and how my role here helps support the science,” she said.

Ever since she was a young child, Andenmatten said she wanted to choose a profession that helped others. “I contemplated joining the military and the police force.  As a young adult, I learned that I possess the knack to deal with intense and stressful situations. That led me to join the Springs volunteer fire department and become a paramedic.”

“We’re here to protect those who do the science, build amazing things, keep the site clean and safe, move heavy equipment, and administer our benefits and paychecks, just to name a few,” said Andenmatten. “And we, the fire-rescue group, are the trained individuals who stand ready 24 hours a day, seven days a week to protect and take care of all of them.”

Lab firefighters start their 24-hour shifts with roll call at 8 a.m. Each morning, the crew meets with the fire chief and officers to get updates and receive specific assignments. “We know our exact roles for the day, but we’re ready to handle whatever situation may arise,” Andenmatten added. “In addition to the extensive training, this job is physically demanding, so we make sure we find the time to exercise to maintain our strength.”

This is Andenmatten’s first paid job as a firefighter. She stills works as a paramedic and volunteers for the Springs Fire Department. She thoroughly enjoys that, as a Lab employee, she gets to do both. “It’s rare that you get to do two jobs you love simultaneously,” she said. “I also get to spend the shifts with seven other people, which creates a special bond and feeling of comradery. It’s fulfilling, unique, and a great job.”

Andenmatten adds that women have fought hard to prove themselves and have crossed many hurdles when it comes to securing jobs in the field of fire and rescue service.

“Know your limits, ask for help, take the high road, and always stay positive. I believe you can live a positive life simply by the way you perceive the world and how you treat others,” she said.

When she isn’t working, you can find Andenmatten running on the beach with her dog Revis and hosting friends at home with her fiancé, Richard.

Brookhaven National Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

2019-14430  |  INT/EXT  |  Newsroom