Sunday, March 21, 2010

I Am a Firefighter because -

Hello everybody, this post is my entry into this months First Due Blog Carnival. The First Due Blog Carnival was started by my fellow blogger over at The Fire Critic and will be hosted by a different fire service blogger each month. As this is the inaugural episode, The Fire Critic gets the honor of being the first host. This months topic is: "I am a Firefighter Because-"

The First Due Blog Carnival will be posted on Wednesday, so head on over there to read some of the best fire service related  blogs on the web.  Enjoy. 


I am a firefighter because of two basic reasons:

#1 - My mom was an incessant nag and I got tired of listening to her drone on and on about my lack of direction.

#2 - My Introduction to Fire Science instructor was a very dynamic teacher who "sold" the job well enough that I bought into the fire service as a career.

I grew up in the 70's. Although I enjoyed Emergency, Adam 12, Dragnet and Report from Engine Company 82, I enjoyed goofing off even more. That and partying.

We lived in the barrio. Since times were tough, I had been working 20 hours a week or more since I was 15. High school back then was a joke. Put in your time, stay out of trouble (don't get caught) and you would get a diploma. That was my strategy, and it worked to perfection.

After high school,  my part time menial jobs turned into full time menial jobs and the partying subsided somewhat. I met the Saint That I am Married To about a year out of high school, but I was still living at home. My mom was constantly bitching at me about one thing or another and she was charging me $125 a month to live at home. One of her many nag-fest subjects was that I needed to go to school.

Right. I just spent 13 years in school and now you want me to go back? What am I going to study, Metabolization of Cannaboids in the Human Body? How about Home Brewing and Distillation Techniques 101? Finally, I decided that I would take a class just to get her off of my ass for one night a week.

A friend of mine had taken "Introduction to Fire Science" at the local Junior College. and said that it was a fun and easy class. Fun and easy were two qualities that I always looked for in classes, so I enrolled in the fall semester of 1980.

Intro is a fun class. It is a very basic class that gives an overview of the fire service. It is nothing too deep, but an exposure to the a broad scope of the fire service.  The instructor was a Captain with the local Fire Department who instructed at the J.C. on the side. I owe my career to this Captain.

Captain Dynamic was one of those guys who was an asshole to his wife, a tyrant at work and a genius in the classroom. He provided aimless people like me with exactly what we needed to realize that the fire service was an extremely rewarding, challenging and exiting career. He also taught us that this career was attainable to anyone who possessed a basic skill set, a superior work ethic and certain personality traits. I found the focus that I lacked and I was hooked.

Captain Dynamic also taught high achievers in his class how to prepare for and take oral interviews. At that time (and still today, although to a lesser extent) the oral interview is where the game is won or lost. Capt. Dynamic coached three of us that year. We finished #1, #2 and #4 out of 1200 people. Dynamic was a little pissed someone snuck in the #3 spot. I have used those interview skills ever since, they have served me well.

EMT, a host of other classes and becoming a paid-call firefighter followed is short order. I was working for the Very Small Municipal Fire Dept. within 18 months and was then hired by the Kinda Big Fire Protection District 10 months after that. The rest is a blur.

The job has been everything Dynamic said it would be, good and bad. I worked hard, played the game and have had a successful career. I have met people I love like brothers and have met some that I would like to hit with a chair. I have learned lots, forgotten some and still learn something every day. My career has been filled with incredible joy and gut-wrenching heartbreak.

In closing, I am a firefighter because of fate, chance or divine intervention. Take your pick. Regardless, I fell into it. The Fire Service has been has been a good fit for me and I for it. In a few short years, my career will be over. It has been a good run so far, but I will not miss parts of it. I will however, miss the people.

The fire service is a demanding, challenging career - yet rewarding. For certain people, I strongly recommend it.

Thanks for reading,
A retrospective Schmoe


  1. Dear Captain Schmoe,
    The right person showing up at the right time, like Captain Dynamic, is a wonderful gift. I'm so glad he showed up.

    I congratulate you on a great career and an interesting blog I read regularly.

    Ann T.

  2. Capt Schmoe:
    Have you read Dennis Smith's book on his life before Engine Co. 82 (A Song for Mary is the title)? He was dabbling in heroin and petty crime. Even being forced to serve in the armed forces didn't quite focus young Dennis, but the fire department did.

    And thank God for that!

    Thanks for the testimony and the post.

    The Observer

  3. Capt
    You must have some fabulous memories tucked away... oh wait.... that's what the blog is for (((Gia strikes her forehead with palm of hand)) Silly me...... I hate to erase so it stays. Well great read as always and I am sure your locals are happy you fell into the Fire Sciences!
    Stay sane and safe!

  4. You should have to know everything when you are in this field. Try to get involve with others and think about you are a fireman, and for who.