Updated: May 27
I have been fortunate to have worked in the fire service for over thirty-two years. As a child, I grew up next to a fire station staffed with full-time firefighters. I could see the firefighters from my bedroom window working on equipment. At night, I could hear the garage doors open and see the red lights come on as they rushed past my house en route to a call for help. Each time was exciting, and I could only imagine what it was like to be a firefighter. At times, I would stop by the fire station to say hello. The firefighters were always friendly and willing to show me the truck and turn on the emergency lights. Their kindness and purpose left a lifelong impression on me. Becoming a firefighter became my dream, and I focused on making that my career.
After arriving home from initial training as an Army Combat Medic, I enrolled in the local community college to achieve certification as a firefighter. I was in class with people who had the same goal, but a fire department had already hired them. I was unaffiliated with a fire department, so I had no equipment and paid for the class myself. What was I doing wrong?
As I went through the class, I learned the basics of becoming a firefighter. Most of the classes were based on kinesthetic learning; climbing ladders, starting power equipment, and pulling hose. At that time, there was little discussion on the make-up of fire departments in Minnesota and how to become full-time. It was not until later that I learned most of Minnesota's firefighters were volunteers. They served for FREE!
After class, I was able to get onto a fire department as a paid-on-call firefighter. The fire department required staffing during the nighttime hours and on the weekends. I signed up for shifts whenever I could and had so much fun responding to calls, working at the stations, and learning. Every day, I learn something new about the fire service. The job requires us to pay attention to the community's changes, technology, and new laws and processes. The world is ever-changing, which affects the response plan for anyone responding to emergencies. When I started my career in the 1980s, we responded to fires and car crashes. Now we need to be prepared for terrorism, pandemics, active shooters, electric vehicles, lightweight construction, clandestine labs, and so much more.
As I reflect on a successful career, the most rewarding part of being a firefighter was the respect I received from the community. Firefighters in the United States are known as one of the most trusted individuals in our country. Their purpose is simply to help those in need. They risk their well-being for people they have never met and sometimes lose their lives serving. They represent the community as the "trusted few" and wear their uniforms with pride and honor. Because they live in the community, they understand who filled the boots before them and the respect now being rewarded for the blood and sweat they gave.
Becoming a firefighter has to come with the understanding that you are serving others. Although firefighting can be self-rewarding, everything you do is to ensure you are prepared to help someone in need and support your team. If you have the compassion to serve others, this would be an excellent place for you. JOIN OUR TEAM!