Sunday, March 31, 2013

30 years...

Happy Easter everybody, I hope you all had a wonderful day.  I enjoyed the day spending time with family and celebrating the life of Jesus Christ. It was a wonderful day.

On April 1st, 1983 my dad began his career as a paid firefighter. Tomorrow he will celebrate 30 years of service to the citizens of our town.  He has been through good times, bad times, all those in between times… you name it. As you read in my previous post he has also had the health issues he has battled. What is most amazing to me though is through it all he has never stopped loving the job and even on the worst days he still showed up.

He began just like all of us, a backwards riding Firefighter, also had his EMT license but that wasn’t really recognized until later on in his career.  In the mid to late 80’s he began doing public education for local schools and daycares and became quite involved with that. In the early 90’s, he was promoted to Lieutenant and placed in the admin division as the Public Education Officer.

Over the years he has taught thousands and thousands of children and adults from schools to the workplace about fire and life safety. He has become one of the most famous people in our town. He can still walk through a store and hear people yelling “ Fireman Bruce “.

He still holds the rank of Lieutenant/EMT/Public Education Officer and his duties also now include being the department PIO and we will also say go to man for anything that breaks lol. Usually that has to do with computers or communications equipment though.

As I sit hear tonight and think about it the thing I keep thinking about over and over is in 30 years what have his eyes seen? What has changed in 30 years? And, if there is anything at all that he could change about his career up to this point what would it be and why?

I know if he could remember everything he could write a book a mile long. 30 years of knowledge and experience is priceless. I am still young and beginning my career and I ask him questions every day about the job. I am a sponge right now and I believe that you have to know where your department has been to understand why you are where you are today and make the decisions to lead you into the future.

To all you young guys out there, if there is anybody around your department that has 20-30 years or more on the job you need to asking them every question and learn possible thing you can from them today because tomorrow you will be the guy with 30 years and the rookie will be looking at you saying, “ What all have you seen in 30 years, what has changed?”

Now to the senior guys, teach your rookies everything they need to know. They are looking up to you and depending on you. They are the guys that will be replacing you. You want them to keep your department going strong. You need to leave it better than it was when you began.

30 years… I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for me in the next 30 years of my career. I look forward to every moment I get to be a firefighter!

Dad… congratulations on 30 years of service. With no plans of retiring soon you still get plenty of time to keep teaching me. Thanks for introducing me to the greatest job on earth and I am honored to follow in your footsteps. I hope I make you as proud in my career as I am of you and what you have accomplished in yours.

Be safe!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Making Memories...

            Hello everybody, it has been awhile since we last posted so I decided since I had some free time for the first time in a while I would try to throw something together. Here lately I have had a little something on my mind so I will share that with you all.

            In November of 2000 I was beginning my career in the fire service as an explorer with my local volunteer department, my older brother had just joined up as a member of the department, and my now sister-in-law was somewhere along that time frame of joining too.  My brother and I were working on following our dad’s footsteps and excited to do so. Dad was so proud that we were joining up and wanted to do what he does.

            One night on a mutual aid fire, while I was still an explorer, I got the opportunity to do some firefighting with my dad. The fire had occurred at a local lumberyard and they had knocked the fire down but were digging through the hot spots. They decided it wouldn’t hurt to let me get in and dig with them… I am glad they did. You see, that was the first and last time I ever got to do that with my dad, my brothers never got the chance. Not because he passed, but because he received some terrible news and diagnosis with his health and was diagnosed with stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  You can bet that I have never forgotten that night though.

            Some time had passed and the doctors decided to do a bone marrow test to see if the cancer had spread to it or not. The day they did the test they took a piece of bone from his backside, they also told him no more firefighting. NO MORE…. WTF!!! That night there was a large carpet store fire across town. He asked me to drive him over there so he could at least watch. Before we arrived they had called for mutual aid from my volunteer department. When we arrived there he told me, “ Get your stuff on and go do your thing!” I did, but then later I returned to check on him. I found him sitting on the hood of a police car and could tell before I got there that there were huge tears in his eyes. That is another night I will never forget.

            Having to see him sit there and know he could never do again what he loved so much was probably one of the hardest things I will ever see in my entire life. If you have never experienced it with family, a co-worker, close friend, whatever, I hope you never have to. As you all know we live, eat, breathe, and sleep fire. That was he also.

            Another issue that hurt was he was told because the chemo would weaken his immune system that he could no longer go into the schools and teach fire prevention classes. That’s his job; he is the Public Fire/Life Safety Education Coordinator. So, BOOM, everything comes to a halt in the blink of an eye. He however overcame this. Kicked its ass!

            After he beat it he was released to start teaching in schools again, could respond to fires (without active firefighting), could get back into a groove. That is what he has done too. Has had a few health issues here and there but has been to work nearly every day even when he was feeling a little under the weather. The man is unstoppable.  The day he got released was a memorable day.

            The last memory I want to share happened just the other day; last shift actually. In October I was hired at the department dad works at, the department I had grown up around. Until last shift I hadn’t caught a working fire yet. But, that all ended the other night. Right as we were preparing dinner at the station we caught a structure fire. We responded, put the fire out, and as I exited the building to doff my equipment the first person I seen standing at the bottom of the steps was my dad, smiling at me with a smile that was full of pride, joy, and love. You guessed it; I will never forget that.

            Not everybody is as fortunate as I am to get to work with his or her father, mother, brother, etc. If you are however, never forget the memories you get to make together on the job. There will come a day when you won’t be able to anymore.  I just started and dad will have 30 years on April 1st. he has no plans of retiring soon but I know he will one day which means I have to be making the best of time and get in as many memories as I can with him on the job.

            Thanks for taking the time to read this post and letting me share this with you.

Be Safe!!!