I am writing this blog for all everyone to get to know who I am and what my experiences are and where I am going in the fire service. Feel free to message me any advice... I want to learn and never stop!
Well I am from Northern Illinois, born and raised. I grew up like many families, mom,dad and siblings. my mom knew I destined to for the fire service when I was 5 years old when we tookt he first trip to the fire station. I climbed on every piece asked every typical question a 5 yeat old does! My parents had to pull me kicking and screaming out of that fire house. Over the next few years I learned to ride a bik and found that I could chase these big red trucks! I started going to the fire house, saying "hi" to the guys and watching everything they did at a fire.
Something happened when I was 11 years old... my father passed away from a couragous battle with cancer. He had a stroke and ended up passing away from complications with the cancer and stroke.
When I turned 14 was the turning point when I knew being a firefighter/emt was what I was going to do. My father knew how much I wanted to become firefighter when I grew up. I had put the pieces together and felt some sort of "sense of duty" to make my father proud and fulfill my dream. My mom had bought a Smithsonian Institute magazine. In this magazine was an article on the Pheonix Fire Department and thier premier fire academy. I immediately fell in love with this article and I still have it to this day!
My mom started dating one of the best men in the world. Little did I know I would EVER call him "DAD" anbd my fire service influence! (we'll touch this later). He was a retired fire Lt. from the town (Geneva). How wild huh? She started dating a firefighter! As I got to know him he mentioned how the fire department has a cadet/explorer program and he told me to give the guys a call and see when I could show up. I did this and before I knew it I was sitting in my first training meeting, scared as heck, but excited! The lead instructor weas a career Lt. (Lt. Williams) at the dept. and 2 of his sons were cadet members. The oldest of the two (Joe) took a liking to me and we became friends over the next few months. I completed my required training/checklists to participate in the ride/shift program.
My first shift was a SCARY... I walked in at 7am with little knowledge of how the day to day operations went. I found Lt. Williams and he showed me the engine, told me where I would sit and what he expected of me. I remember putting me gear down and chaning into my cadet uniform and feeling in top of the world! Not much went on for most of the day. I helped with the rig check out, they showed where all the training material was and I picked up the book IFSTA 3rd Edition and I started reading! Then, finally the bell went off... gas leak. WHOO HOO my first call. I suited up, got in the engine and away we went! We got there nothing found, but I still remember my first call to this day!
My first fire!
The day started as any other... 7am gear by the rig, check in the Lt. and then start house duties. This day was any other, but rainy and nasty. Then, RING!, we get toned for General Alarm for a report of flames from a house. I was shaking, running from cleaning the bathrooms wondering "what is this going to be like?!". We went flying out of the station down across the river and on scene with a bonifide fire from a bedroom! I got off the rig, the Lt. told me to stay with the Engineer and the medics and observe. This was my first taste of why we are who we are... and sealed the deal that i wanted to be a firefighter.
Over the next several years I responded to several fires botyh in town and out of town, but my first time that the FD trusted me help out afterwards and got to do a little work was a fatal fire down the street from the FD. I remember it was 4am pager went off and I came back to FD. Jumped ont he ladder truck... for the next 2 hrs. or so I saw what it meant to be a FF. I remember the look on 2 FF's faces that fought so hard and diligently to save a man from his 2nd floor bedroom. This was the first time I had ever been exposed to this. I was now an Lt. in the cadet program and with that came some trust. I spent the next several hours helping out the D/C and the investigators with clearing the building of contents and spot fires. I was in CLOUD NINE... the excitement! Over the time I had spent at Geneva I made my fair share of mistakes and i know it! Naturally I was an excitable person...
When I turned 18 I applied for part time FF, but unfortunatly I was passed up in the selection process of the 5 spots. I was defeated, but kept with the cadet program and finally became the Chief of the Cadet program. What an accomplishment!!! It felt on top of the world when my cadet advisor Lt. Williams gave that round of bugles to me and said to me I was now in best of 10 other individuals. I went to the local college, obtained my EMT license and worked for am private ambulance service for the next year or so. I re-applied and got hired! What a great accomplishment for me. I was now a Recruit Firefighter, I made it! The next 3 months of fire academy I proved myself wrong... I had an attitude problem. I was number 3 of 20 in the academy and was not humble about it. This proved to come back and bite me in the sector C. I made a mistake in the academy that would prove disaterous for me. I was forced to resign for lying. This hurt and defeated me, but luckily for me I had finished my IL Firefighter II.
Over the next 6 months I spent I time thinking about my mistakes in the last 5 years and over the course of the academy. I stayed enrolled in the academy and met D/C Leon Mumaw of the Sandwich FD. He instructed my Tactics and Strategy class. Through this class I grew up!
I had spent the last 9 months thinking about what I had done wrong. My step-father mentioned he knew the fire chief from the Kaneville Fire Protection District. I called the chief and showed up. I was an outsider and "out of townee, but they gave me a chance. Over the next 4 years I busted my butt, proved myself as a I did when I was a cadet at Geneva. I showed a small town why and "outsider" can be an effective resource. I have fought some fires, seen come horrific wrecks, but most of all I GREW UP while here. They knew they could count on me being there, hanging out and running calls whenever I could. This fueled my Pride and Ownership!
In the last year I decided to apply to a dept. in the next county as a part time FF. I got the job! I started doing all my required checks, met some great ppl and learned A LOT! I felt like I was still missing something though. I heard about a place out in the east coast where volunteers operated in an urban environment.
I decided to take a trip to ever so famous Prince Georges County, MD. I rode there for 2 weeks at Laurel Rescue Squad Co. 49. I immediately fell in love the pride, ownership, honor, respect, and courage. These men and women got on an engine, squad, ambo or dive unit and did the job for FREE thousand of times per year and never once regretted it! I met some amazing people amnd they embraced me. With that I decided to apply to be a live-in firefighter there. I'd live at the fire house for FREE and in exchange for my time to run calls. I was accepted, jumped through all the hoops to make it happens. I am proud to say I am moving to Laurel Rescue Squad Co. 49 the end of January this this year. I view this as a learning and maturing experience.
I have had a hard go int he fire service and life, but things are looking better and I see where the mistakes I make get me. I took all my mistakes and made them a learning experience!
Thanks for the time to read this and get to know me... I'd be interested and talking with everyone here and learn all I can to keep my and my fellow brothers safe!
"The Experienced Probie"