Firefighter, I Am

1st helmet (active)
1983, I started out as a Fire Photographer, after being part of the Los Angeles County Fire Department Explorer Program.  Law enforcement activity caught my eyes, especially accident investigations, besides studying and going through a police academy, I kept up with the photography and used it for education and training purpose offering the photos to the departments that I happen to capture at the time of the incident.

3rd helmet (inactive)
Who would have thought that by 2014, I would become part of a department as a firefighter, certainly not me.  I have heard all kind of things regarding being a volunteer firefighter and I have realized that many have no idea what it takes today.  Maybe in the past, or still in some areas, the volunteers have been looked upon as the "old man's club" where a bunch of guys just sit back and drink beer and tell stories.  Now if you do any research you will find that women have joined the ranks, they go through training, get certified, some even train with "paid" firefighters, they face the same budget problem as the paid departments (if not worst), they're in the public eyes, and once the uniform (including bunker gear) is donned you can't tell who's a volunteer or "paid" firefighter.  I don't use the term "career" firefighter like many will do to distinguish the two - volunteer or paid; reason for, you have volunteers that have made it a career to service their community as a volunteer firefighter.  I myself believe that I might be under the term "career" firefighter.
4th helmet (active) Captain

I have served the community of Blue Diamond, that I am assigned to since 2014, not only have I served the community, but have gone into other communities within the department's jurisdiction to assist at the other rural stations with coverage of their station.  I did not see myself as a firefighter, little less obtaining the rank of captain, getting certifications from FEMA, IFSTA, and various other organizations and enjoying the training that is offered within the department and by other resources.  After five years of service with the department, monthly training, the reactions of the public when you're at an incident, the public service that one might get involved for a day such as Fill-The-Boot or a Show-N-Tell at a school, no one can tell who's a volunteer or "paid" firefighter.  It's a service that I enjoy very much and continue to seek more education within the field to help the communities better. 

I've learned that many folks that will criticize what you do and make some of the statements "I won't do that for free", "that's crazy", and various other statements of negativity, in my opinion either refuse to learn or just are afraid of doing the unknown and taking a chance.  I have found that in this line of work, it is not the bravery, it is not the adrenaline, and it is certainly not a phase...you got to have heart; without heart it cannot be accomplish.  In my opinion it's like the military ~ it's not for everyone, but you won't know unless you try.

(Disclaimer: This is my opinion, my view, my own feelings and it is not endorsed or backed by any agency, organization, or department.)  

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