Today’s #YOUAREGOVX member’s first stop after being born at the hospital was a firehouse. Born into a firefighting family, Thomas is currently part of the elite New York Fire Department. Here’s some insight from a seasoned fire service warrior.
I basically grew up in a firehouse. My father has been a volunteer for over 30 years, and the joke around the house is that on the way home from the hospital after I was born, they had to stop at the firehouse because there was a call. He’s always strived to do all he can do in the fire service, starting as a Firefighter and making his way to Chief and then onto Investigator and Instructor. He inspired me to do the same.
I turned in my application to be a volunteer the day I turned 16. Since then I have strived to do all I can in the Volunteer world and now in the world of FDNY.
You can talk all day about “new strategies and tactics,” but the basics are still there. Fire is still the same. It’s still hot, and it will still kill you. Doesn’t matter if you’re paid or a volunteer. You have to get inside and put the wet stuff on the red stuff.
During my 10 years as a volunteer, there’s been many changes. We all know that they change the ratio for CPR every other year. But the biggest change is how everything now is electronic. There’s no more jumping on top of the rig to run the deck gun or fight to get a ladder off the top. All it takes is just the push of a few buttons and everything can be done. Then there is also the hated warning alarms and lights for the seatbelts and the back up and side view cameras. The most helpful thing though is the SCOTT PAK-Tracker. Everybody thought something like this was impossible and was just a fiction of the imagination. But it is here and works very well to save firefighter lives.
No matter how much some of these expensive speakers get up at these conferences and preach about “new strategies and tactics,” but the basics are still there. Fire is still the same. It’s still hot, and it will still kill you. Doesn’t matter if you’re paid or a volunteer. You have to get inside and put the wet stuff on the red stuff. Before you went to all these expensive conferences where you just go and sit listening to somebody talk, you had to actually get out there and fight fires. You had to get hands-on experience to know what you were doing. That still remains the same. The only way to learn and become a seasoned firefighter is to get your hands dirty.
And with that experiences comes certain calls that will stick with you. That is how you learn and get your real-life experience, so you’re better prepared for the next call, and the next, and the next. Between both my volunteer and my paid times, I’ve responded to a big variety of emergencies. Everything from stubbed toes to shootings. Car accidents. Gas explosions. Even a helicopter crash.
And serving as an NYC firefighter, you really are expected to be the best of the best. The job is mostly the same as firefighters from elsewhere in the company, except in the city we just experience things more frequently. In FDNY, we show up with three engines, two ladders, and a chief within minutes. Every guy has a predetermined task that he’s focused on doing, and everybody goes to work from every angle.
The training here holds you to such a high standard because it really is required to not just save lives, but to be there for your brother and sister firefighters as well. You are expected to be able to handle any situation at a call like it’s your second nature.