Meet California's oldest living firefighter, Sam Seibert

ByDustin Dorsey via Localish logo
Friday, February 7, 2020
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In Summer of 2019, Sam Seibert celebrated his 100th birthday! Even after 30 years of service with the San Jose Fire Department, Seibert continues to give back and share his stories as a volunteer at the San Jose Fire Museum.

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- In 1946, Sam Seibert joined the ranks of the San Jose Fire Department in the Bay Area.

After 30 years of service, Seibert retired as Captain, but that wasn't the end of his time at the firehouse.

In 2019, he turned 100-years-old and he continues to volunteer at the San Jose Fire Museum.

He says his longevity comes from the relationships that he has with his fellow volunteers and friends around him.

"I feel that I am one of the lucky to have lived as long as I have and my mind be as agile as I think it is," Seibert said. "There's no justification of why I've existed this long whatsoever. I wasn't able to buy anybody off because there's nobody I can pay off. So I am one of the lucky ones."

In 1951, the then 32-year-old Sam Seibert and his crew opened up Firehouse One in San Jose, Calif. In 2019, Sam turned 100 years old, the firehouse is now the San Jose Fire Museum. Sam's still here and he's considered the Godfather.

Sam started out in 1946 as a firefighter.

He worked for 30 years and retired in 1976 as a captain.

After he retired, he still stayed somewhat involved, but not as involved as he is today with the San Jose Fire Museum.

"We kid him about being the Godfather of a San Jose Fire Museum, but really he is," San Jose Fire Museum Vice President Jim Carter said. "He works every day with us on the days that we do volunteer work down there and he works right alongside of us."

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But Seibert just says that he is along for the company.

"I'm a stooge," Seibert said. "I don't do much of anything. I walk around and David tells me, 'give me a hand' and I try."

In all seriousness, Seibert's contributions go so much farther than what he actually does around the fire house.

"Working with Sam is a pleasure," San Jose Fire Museum Facilities Manager David Wood said. "He's a 'do it today' man. I wish I could learn more of that. I'm 72 and I'm the youngest guy there usually. It goes up to 100 years old, so it's a fun place to be with all the knowledge that people have."

While talking to Seibert, you can see that his mind has not waned even after a century of life.

In fact, he will start a sentence with, "Let me tell you a little story" and detail an event that happened decades ago.

He believes his memories are important to hold on to.

"Each one of us has history," Seibert said. "Don't you think history is the thing that makes the world go round? History to me is probably the most valuable thing we have in our life."

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A special piece of history came in the summer of 2019 when San Jose recognized Seibert for the important piece of the community that he his.

"We think that Sam is the oldest living firefighter in California," Carter said. "August 26, 2019, we celebrated Sam's birthday with a huge party here at Station One. Sam was driven up in a 1937 America LaFrance Engine that Sam rode on at one time when he was active in the department early on. The city actually honored him the day before and made it Sam Seibert Day. They issued a proclamation for him. It's very special and he was very honored and very surprised that there was that many people there. I wasn't surprised. I knew there was going to be a lot of people there. He's given back to the department, he's given back to us and, more importantly, he's given back to the community. I think that's a key to his longevity. Sam is just a treasure."

"To be able to live his life through the stories and the humor, we all laugh together, it's pleasure," Wood said.

As Seibert was asked to look back at his life and the memories made, he is happy with what he has accomplished and lived through.

Everyone around him considers him to be a great man, and Seibert believes that he has lived a great life.

"I look at all the good times that I had in the station working and to start with just a job," Seibert said. "As you become involved in it deeper, you become emotion to the public and the people you work with. I think that the one thing that I'll take away from it is the relationship that I enjoy with several members of this organization. There's not much that I wouldn't do for them. I guess that's what keeps me going, is the fact that life's too important to sit there and let it go to waste. I'm luckier than the average, I guess, that's all there is to that."

For more information on the San Jose Fire Museum, visit their website here.