18 FIRERESCUE MAGAZINE DECEMBER 2016 FIREFIGHTERNATION.COM
school so I would focus on my studies. It was great
because when I arrived, my dorm was right next
door to that community’s firehouse. Ha! How’d
that work out!? Actually, pretty good, as I was
able to squeeze by on my grades. How? When I
became of age, I joined the local squad and could
leave classes when the whistle blew if I had passing
I can tell you so many great stories and memories
Personal protective equipment. ✔
about growing up in the firehouse, taking dates to
the firehouse, and pretty much every aspect of my
life involving the firehouse. I was the first in and
last out, took as many classes as I possibly could,
had my radios on 24/7, always wore a fire shirt …
and when there was a fire or related emergency,
I turned out 24/7/365—and always turned out fast.
Today, not much has changed. I could do what I
love for my entire life and career, and I have no plans
to stop. Essentially, my personal size-up is that if
the doctor says I am done, the annual physical tells
me I’m done, or if I start drooling one day, I’ll back
off. I may not back off going to fires, and maybe I’ll
be taking pictures, but I’ll back off my role on the
fireground. Until then, I am ready. Always ready.
My Loveland-Symmes (OH) Fire Department
staff car sits backed in, always ready to go. It’s
washed by me a few times a week. Spotless. The
equipment in the car is checked regularly and
maintained, so I am ready for when someone calls
us when they are having their bad day.
Hand tools. ✔
Command equipment. ✔
Check, check, and check; it’s all always ready.
My more than 10,000 Whelen red and white
LED lights and sirens are cleaned, shined, and
ready to warn that one of the most “ate up” fire-
fighters anyone ever met is on the way. At the
youthful age of 61, I too still get kidded and
catch some grief because I have never stopped
LOVING being a firefighter. The more some
people seem annoyed, the more I do and the
more my pride swells. I love it. Like you, and
like almost all firefighters and EMTs, we have
a genetic “chip” inside of us that drives us to
want to help people. I’m sure someone with
a bunch of letters after their last name can tell us
why, but for now the fact is that we all like to help.
But then there is us, the “other” ones. The ones
of us who are at a little different level; the ones who
are kinda “supercharged” about being firefighters.
As Donald Sutherland said while playing Ronald
the arsonist in the movie Backdraft, “The funny
thing about firemen is that night and day they are
always firemen.” And that is very true, but then
there are those firefighters like you who carry it to a
much higher level. A much higher level.
Your fire radio is on all the time. You are gener-
ally found wearing a blue T-shirt with a fire depart-
ment logo on it. When you hear a siren sound,
you redefine ADD/ADHD. If you have a choice
between turning out to a fire or going on a date,
you know that dates can always be rescheduled.
There may even be a mustache involved, but it’s
not always required, especially for the many women
who also LOVE being firefighters.
Love being who you are, Sun. There are many,
many firefighters who don’t take it to your level,
and that’s fine. For them. But don’t you ever apolo-
gize for striving to be the absolute best; for always
reading, learning, and studying fire; for being who
you are 24/7 and wearing what you are on your
shoulder all the time. It’s called pride. I remember
in the ’70s a brother firefighter, Mike P, telling/ask-
ing me: “You do know that most of us aren’t into
this like you are, right?”
It was a nice reminder but absolutely never
changed my focus or enthusiasm. Never will.
Never apologize for always being totally inter-
ested, always learning, always training, and saving
your extra bucks so you can attend outside training
programs such as FDIC. Don’t worry about those
who have anything other than something positive
Love being who you are. There are
many, many firefighters who don’t take
it to your level, and that’s fine—for them.
The late Chief Russ Randolph, shown on right circa 1979.