My Career as a Firefighter

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Firefighting has always been an interest of mine; it was something I dreamed of doing as a child. When I began to realize my dream, I had no idea of the obstacles and changes that I would face – the tests I would weather, and the impact it would have on me as a person.

After being voted into the department, I endured a probationary period, a phase all rookie teams must go through. During this time, I took numerous courses ranging from water rescue, CPR certification, hazardous material, and firefighting training.

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In addition to these tasks, I had to clean the firehouse, make beds, wash the trucks, handle the dishes, and roll hoses. I did this without complaint because I knew it was part of the learning process in becoming a firefighter. The people in the department were very supportive of me, they watched over and helped teach me the skills necessary to become a firefighter.

The first call I responded to was tagged as a signal 50, which denotes a fire. I slid down the fire pole, swiftly donned my turnout gear, which consisted of my coat, boots, hat, and pants. I jumped in the truck, feeling an overwhelming sense of nervousness and excitement – I can still remember my captain cautioning me about the norms and signs as we drove through busy downtown Mystic. I was envisioning a house engulfed in flames. As we arrived at the scene, to my surprise, a brushfire caused by the disposal of coal from a fireplace was the only thing I encountered that day. Since then, I have been involved with numerous high-stress situations involving fatal car crashes, search and rescue operations and tackling rampant fires.

My first fire occurred in a two-story wood building. I was holding the nozzle of the hose, directing the flow of water with my captain and a fellow firefighter behind me for support. My captain instructed me to stay low because of the looming cloud of smoke. As I entered a room on the second floor, spraying the fire while crawling forward on my knees, the burgeoning heat started to permeate through the barriers of my gloves, and my helmet started to melt. I yelled to my captain regarding the intense heat and he responded, “Once you feel it burning, you’re already burnt.” I continued moving, hugging the perimeter of the room and lending an ear to listen out for any help requests, screaming out periodically to make sure no one was left behind. Luckily, the house was empty at the time of the fire and we were able to limit the fire damage to a specific section of the house.

In the wake of the September 11th attacks, I travelled to New York City to volunteer in the cleanup efforts at Ground Zero. It was deeply unsettling, the scene, when I first got there, reduced to ashes from what it once was. Workers and volunteers were tirelessly sorting through the rubble of what once was the World Trade Center. The ruins of an office milieu, in the form of computers, telephones, and chairs, hung vacantly from surrounding buildings. The scale of the wreckage was truly overwhelming. Almost a month since the incident, and fires were still ablaze. The sight of fire trucks buried under debris, search dogs combing through piles, hoping to find survivors, are memories that will resonate with me forever.

Even though I attended boarding school in Kent, Connecticut, I was still able to continue with my firefighting training. I joined the Explorer Post 4911 in 2001 under the Kent Volunteer Fire Department, which enabled me to take additional training courses on such things as brush fire, bloodborne pathogens, and becoming a Medical Response Technician (MRT). I even got the chance to go on emergency calls with teachers at Marvelwood who are also volunteers for the fire department.

Firefighting has been a wonderful learning experience. It has been everything I imagined it would be and more. It has introduced me to a brotherhood of men who would lay down their lives to save others. We are one family.

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My Career as a Firefighter. (2022, Nov 10). Retrieved from