I will never forget the day, I signed up to be a volunteer firefighter for my community. In 2005, I can recall watching the devastation on TV from the natural disaster Hurricane Katrina and Rita in the Gulf Region of the United States. I felt like I needed to help in some form or fashion, I wanted to do something. At the time, in my local area of California, I visited my local volunteer fire station and signed up to become a volunteer firefighter. I really didn’t know that I would soon be embarking on my future career in the Fire Service.
I attended training on Wednesday evenings and weekends for eight months at the Firehouse. I graduated from my department's firefighter basics program and became an official probationary firefighter. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of every training class in the firefighter basic program over the course of those eight months. I consumed and digested every piece of information regarding the fire service. Every magazine on the coffee table at the firehouse, I must have read three times from cover to cover over the period of my first year. I even asked the senior firefighters at my station if I could take home the old magazines to glean the valuable information they contained. I became a student of the fire service. Over the next year following the department sponsored training program, I attended various emergency medical and fire service related training class.
I will never forget my first call some ten years ago as a volunteer firefighter. After that first call, I came to the realization that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my career. I approached the crossroads of my life and I had to make an important decision. I wanted to become a public servant. I wanted to help my community. In December of 2006, I served my first paid shift as a reserve firefighter. And in my first year, I signed up for a total of 96 - 24-hour shifts at the firehouse, in addition to my regular full-time day job position.
Why should you become a public servant? Do you feel the desire to help your fellow neighbor in their time of need? Have you ever had a bad day and needed to call 911 for help? I am sure everyone reading this article has requested the aid of a public servant. I have always been thankful for the Good Samaritan that has assisted members of my family in those difficult times. Are you interested in pursuing a career in the fire service? If so, stop by your local firehouse and ask your local firefighters in your community "why they became a public servant?" I am positive they would be more than willing to help you with any questions you might have.
Cover Photo: Author
Chris Baker, has over twelve years of experience in volunteer, combination, and career, fire departments in California. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Anthropology and Associates of Science Degree in Fire Service Command, Company Officer. Chris is a California State Fire Training certified Fire Officer, Driver-Operator, Fire Instructor, and Lead Firefighter I Certification Evaluator. He is a Fire Science Instructor in the California Community Colleges System. Chris is a member of the California Fire Technology Directors’ Association and the California Training Officers Association. He served as a volunteer Peer Reviewer on the FY 2017 Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response Grants (SAFER) for both hiring and recruitment/retention. Chris also served as a Peer Reviewer on the FY 2017 Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG). He is a Volunteer Advocate Regional Manager, Region IX (CA, NV, AZ, HI) for the Everyone Goes Home Program through the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Chris also serves as a volunteer member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Safety, Health and Survival Section serving in their staging area. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the National Fire Heritage Center located in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Chris is a National Fire Service Instructor teaching at notable fire conferences across the country. He is the co-host of The Future Fighter, Fire Engineering Blog Talk Radio Show. Chris writes blog articles for Firefighter Nation, Fire Rescue and Fire Engineering Magazines on mentoring the future generations of the fire service.
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