Fire Bucket Bob sets 2nd Guinness World Record

By Jan Jackson

Rosa and Bob Brooks pausing at one of the 199 tables it took to hold 14,095 patches.

KEIZER, OR. – Forty-five years ago, retired Albany, Oregon Fire Marshall Bob Brooks, collected his first fire department patch, because he was fascinated with the story it represented about the fire department’s  community. As he began to collect more, his fascination grew. By 2011, he had collected 8,158 of them which was enough to break the Guinness World Book of Records.  But he didn’t stop there. On August 3, 2023, he had collected 14,095 which meant he’s back in the Guinness World Book – this time for he beating his own record.

            “I got the first patch from Kingsley Field Fire Department in Klamath Falls, Oregon,” Brooks said.  “So that became number one, one became two and two just continued to grow. Some have said it’s an obsession, and I’m not going to argue with them.”

Members of the Albany, Oregon Fire Department olunteer their time to help Bob Brooks set up the required Guinness World Record display

Brooks, who was born in the small timber town of Vernonia, Oregon, had served four years in the U.S. Air Force Fire Department before he joined the civilian side of firefighting. He only collects patches from the United states and only one patch from each department even though a department may a number of designs from which he could choose. His current collection of (14,095 and growing), represent the number of departments and not strictly the number of patches that exist.

When asked if he was going to try and break his own record again, he said probably not.

One of Bob’ favorite of 17.094 patches from Sherwood, Oregon.

“I was still an active fire marshal at the Albany Fire Department when I learned there was a fire fighter in Spain that held the Guinness World Book record with only 5,000 patches,” Brooks said.  That got me excited because I already had more than 7,000. I called New York, found out what to do, and was lucky enough to have a colleague in Albany who did most of the work for me.

“By this time however, my  colleague has since retired and I had to do it by myself. It is a lot of hard work. Guinness World Records is a stickler on accuracy, so there are a lot of hoops to jump through.”

A second favorite patch took seven days to make by hand on a Singer sewing machine by a fireman’s wife.

Depending on how you count them, Brooks says the people who helped him starts with his wife Rosa and includes thousands of people who have  contributed to his collection.

Brook’s himself is also accomplishing much more than being famous for his growing collection, because he is making his collection available to view online as well as from the new Fire Service Museum developing at Powerland Heritage Park in nearby Brooks, Oregon.

Open to the public, the display was interesting to the crowd of people who got to see them, was fun to watch how a Guinness World Record event takes place, and was exciting to be part of Bob’s success.

About more fire department patches? The hunt goes on.

Marked by state flags.

Double checking for duplicates at the Guinness World Record even setup.

To contact Bob Brooks, email firebucketbob@msn.com.To find out more about the Oregon Fire Service Museum, visit https://oregonfiremuseum.org/about/.

Lead photo by Wynette Wallenburn

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