Have you ever thought about becoming a firefighter?
Honestly, it had never occurred me until recently.
Yet here I am walking out of the East Bethel Fire Department after receiving an offer to become a firefighter/EMT!
The journey has barely begun, and already I want to write about it. What’s it like to become a firefighter in your forties? I’m about to find out, and you’re welcome to follow along!
So how in the world did it happen?
For 14 years I’ve given my blood, sweat and tears to our family business, Leader Motorcycle. But the business has been struggling for several years (largely due to competitive products coming in from China, Taiwan and Pakistan). By last September I was forced to look at “what if.” That is, what if Leader wasn’t going to be able to support me/us? What would I do instead/next?
With kids 10 and 14 (not to mention continuing to run Leader), going ‘back to school’ – including cost and travel time – just didn’t fit into my life.
Then I noticed a posting on NextDoor for a Firefighter Expo in a town just south of our home. I couldn’t make the Expo, but I spent time talking to one of the firefighters, and I learned that today’s firefighters spend more time on medical calls than fire calls.
For those who don’t know, I was trained as an Army combat medic in another life (a much younger life!). I had planned to work as a paramedic while I worked my way through college to become a physical therapist.
I didn’t become a PT or a paramedic, and I wasn’t fond of the Army telling me what to do. But I was fascinated with being a medic (you can see that influence in my novels). So hearing that the Fire Department would send me (and pay for me to attend) not just fire school but EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) certification piqued my interest.
So I submitted an application to two Fire Departments in nearby towns.
I haven’t interviewed for a job in almost 17 years, let alone a “committee style” interview (me in a chair facing five guys in uniform felt a bit like a firing line). To say I was rusty was an understatement! So my first interview didn’t go well. Perhaps not surprisingly, I didn’t get an offer there. And I’m glad.
The second interview (at East Bethel) was completely different from the first. A member of the City Council had brought in a cake for one of the firefighters who was retiring from his day job. Right away I knew there was a rapport among this group. The “committee” interview was at a round table and the others were dressed casually. They asked follow-up questions and commented on my answers (which hadn’t happened at the other interview).
I wasn’t 100% convinced I should jump into firefighting after that first interview, but I came away from this one feeling like I’ve found where I am supposed to be. Still, I’m leaving it up to God; if that is where I am meant to be, He’ll have to make it crystal clear.