So, in my previous posts I have been walking through my life in the early years in the fire service. In this last part, I will finish the story to my current status today.
Once I separated to the fire service, I found myself in Springfield, Missouri. While I was finishing high school my family had relocated to Missouri and after High School I thought I would give it a try.
My first fire department in Missouri was a volunteer department which was in the process transitioning to a combination department and was also adding a residency program allowing people to live in the fire house. After a very short time, I found myself moving into a remote station and getting to know the area at the same time. Calls were not very frequent but the opportunity to serve a new community and have a cheap place to stay was excellent.
An opportunity for a firefighting job became available back in North Dakota at the Air Force Base as a civilian came available so I returned to North Dakota for about a year and a half. When that opportunity didn’t work out, I again found my way back to Missouri.
After about 11 years of volunteering as a firefighter, I found the desire to be a full time firefighter coming back again. An opportunity to work at the Springfield-Branson Regional Airport as a firefighter came available and I jumped at the chance. I worked there for a couple of years and then decided that going back to full time firefighting was the right choice. So after completing the testing process, I became a full time firefighter for Springfield, MO.
I started on a ladder truck and instantly loved the job. Working on a cool truck with lots of toys (tools), the wide variety of work with each calls being a different with different tasks was what the ADHD tendencies in me needed. This was also the haz-mat station which got me back in Level A suits and haz-mat response which I liked. As time went along I transitioned from the Truck to an engine and from busy stations to slow stations. Parts I liked, and parts I could have done without, but that’s why they call it a job and not a vacation!
During this time, I also responded to a tragic incident involving a train and people walking down the tracks which caused several people to loose their life on a beautiful day. The loss of life was completely senseless and during the time which occurred, my job responsibilities included educating the public on safety issues and concerns which got me involved in the Operation Lifesaver Program which is a national safety program that specifically educates the public about safety concerns along railroads. This program began to get me involved in the railroad industry and to begin building working relationships with several railroad officials locally. The more time I spent working with this program, the more I began to have an interest in the railroad industry and emergency response during railroad emergencies.
An opportunity came along which allowed me to leave the fire service to work in the railroad industry for environmental emergency response. It was a great opportunity both financially and professionally. Unfortunately, an economic downturn caused downsizing in the company and the new guy “me” had to go. A tuff time for my family and me but another great opportunity came along and I found my way back to my first love…the fire service.
Today, I work for a great organization who’s people are the very heart of the organization’s success. While technically volunteer’s in their business, their actions and abilities are very much as professional as anyone who get’s paid to do the job. Not only are they firefighters, they are medical responders, rescue professionals, problem solvers, care givers, and most importantly brothers and sisters who care very much about what they do and take pride in every response, every time they are called to help someone.
I am honored to have experienced many things, worked with a great number of super individuals who have taught me much along the way. I am grateful for all of you I know, have known, and can call a friend or colleague along the way.
I am also excited about what the future holds and what opportunities will come my way.
For those of you who are on a journey within this thing called the fire service with me, I hope that your journey is as good for you and it has been to me and I hope you all the best and a safe and happy career.