Becoming a firefighter



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Becoming a firefighter

By Greg Holbrook

I've been extremely busy in the past few months, so Greg here helped me out by writing a guest article for my topic. I promise the EMT article is coming, but here's come candy for the squash.

Becoming a volunteer firefighter is something to be taken seriously. Anyone who ventures into the world of volunteer emergency response halfheartedly will soon find that it’s either all or nothing at all. You can’t go to a fire scene and attack a raging house fire if your heart isn’t into it, and you can’t go to a vehicle accident and expect to save someone’s life if you don’t feel it 100% in your bones. You need the ability to concentrate solely on the task at hand in order to help preserve life and property

Becoming a firefighter isn’t easy. It’s a tough, grueling process that requires dedication and devotion that does not fade or “get old” with time. The training is endless, the courses required become more and more detailed and cumbersome with each passing year, requiring even seasoned firefighters to update and keep their own training current. New tools, rules, codes, and means of fighting fires, rescuing victims from vehicle accidents, and performing hazardous materials response are printed all the time. Volunteers need to be vigilant in keeping up to date. They need to know that when the time comes, they’ll be able to perform the tasks required of them by people in need.

I had no idea what I was in for when I decided to volunteer. But now, after having gone through the first phase of my training criteria (I am now a certified firefighter in NYS), I’m glad I did. I can honestly say that I took my local fire and EMS departments for granted.
I didn’t think about the massive number of hours of training most of them have in their dossiers. A bunch of guys in big yellow coats and oversized hats, that’s what I saw. Now I see professional men and women who dedicate their spare time to helping better other peoples lives by saving property of preventing certain death in other cases. I see people who throw their lives and hearts into their “work” when they take a call. I’ve seen jovial jokers who take NOTHING seriously become a photo negative of themselves and do the most outstanding job as prescribed by whatever situation occurred.

I’ve been surprised at how readily I will rush to a fire scene or accident scene, not knowing what will be there waiting for me, or my fellow volunteers. But I never stop feeling amazed at watching these guys work. Since I am new, I prefer to work in the background, running tools and helping with the “grunt work” associated with every scene. This way, I can learn without being in the way. Watching my fellow firefighters work together on the drop of a dime is truly something I feel privileged to have witnessed. Everyone seems to know what everyone else will do with hardly a word spoken. Personal issues take a back seat to professional actions. Every time I attend a call, I leave the scene feeling as though I can’t wait for the next round of classes to start, so that some day I might be on the same level as some of the guys I now call “brothers”. I know in my heart that attending 180 hours of class (that’s only ONE class, mind you) is well worth the time spent if I can help to save just one life, just one home, or assist in averting one disaster.

I never used to feel the need to become one, but now I am one. I never used to spend time thinking about them, but now I am one, and I think about them all of the time. I never used to feel concern when I watched them work a fire scene, but now I am one, and I feel concern for every single one of them. It’s funny how one decision in your life can change your entire outlook on things

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