As I begin this evening I realize that this has been the first post in a long while. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long but there has been so much going on that there just wasn’t enough time in the day. So, without further adieu…

I’m sure the title is making some of you scratch your head. “More than half?” I can hear you saying. Well, next month, May 1st to be exact, marks my 25th Anniversary as a Volunteer Firefighter and since I’m not 50 yet, more than half of my life has been spent as a volunteer firefighter. Now I didn’t spend all that time with one department but for 25 years I have belonged to a fire department. I still think about that first few weeks when I joined the Indiana Fire Association. I had turnout gear, a key to the fire hall a blue light for my vehicle and no clue what I was doing.

As a new guy, I was expected to be seen and not heard for a while until the guys got to know me a little better. I would show up on calls and wait to be told what to do and maybe get to ride a truck to the call. I was expected to attend as many drills and practices as I could and get my firefighting fundamentals within the first year of my probation. Once that was completed, I was allowed to take other classes like structure burn and advanced structure burn. Then there was the rescue side of the department as well. I took all the classes I could there as well. Basic vehicle rescue, advanced vehicle rescue, special vehicle rescue, trench rescue, confined space and the list goes on and on. I also became a diver with the department.

I was a training machine for the first 3 years I was a firefighter. I initially had visions of Johnny and Roy type scenarios when I first became a firefighter but as time went on I realized it is seldom like it is on TV or the movies. About 4 years in with the department I decided I wanted to start driving the apparatus and run the pumps and ladder trucks. There were some great engineers who taught me a lot over the years with Indiana. Tricks that stuck with me and helped me understand what a truck can and can’t do.

About 10 years in with Indiana I relocated out of the area and had to move. I still however belonged to a couple of really good departments with great reputations. I always was an engineer for them as well. It was nice to see that the things I learned in one place held true in others. I could take all of the things I learned from everywhere and develop my own style. I then began to take training for running the trucks to better myself for what I truly love to do.

Spending as much time as I have running the trucks is a great feeling and huge responsibility that took several years to embrace and fully understand. As my years (and age) increased I found that sometimes slower is faster. (one of my old fire chiefs used to say that all the time) I also learned that the more experience and confidence you gain, the better equipped you are to perform your job.

As luck would have it, I relocated back to Indiana and was able to rejoin the Indiana Fire Association. The same department I began my career with 25 years ago will hopefully be the same one I can retire from. It filled me with pride all those years ago to belong there and still fills me with pride today. While a lot of the guys I started with have retired, there is great contingent of young guys there now with the same drive and willingness we all had when we started. I love the fact that I have been able to do this for 25 years and look forward to a lot more. Some people think I should get a different hobby. Some think it’s a waste of time. And they call ME crazy…