I had the privilege to speak with retired Captain Mike Morales, the owner and author behind Firefighter Blog, which can be found here, and ask him 4 questions for advice he would give to anyone aspiring to become a firefighter.
Captain Morales started his career in public service working for the Santa Clara County Juvenile Probation Department. He made the transition to Cal Fire, one of the best and most highly trained group of wild land firefighters in the world where he eventually retired as a Captain.
I asked Captain Morales 4 questions and his advice for an aspiring firefighter, and this is what he had to say:
What would you say is the most important trait an aspiring firefighter must possess?
The aspiring firefighter must be physically able to perform tasks typically assigned to the job. Physical and mental stamina are vital. The aspiring firefighter must possess the ability to work within a team. In combination with being a team player and being physically able to do the job the candidate must posses a tireless work ethic.
*You can’t do the job if you are not physically fit.
A word of advice for a candidate/probie?
Take advantage of every opportunity to learn. Devour all materials available. In addition to the teachings at the academy go a step beyond and ask if you can read the operations manuals. Commit to memory firefighting nomenclature early on. Learn the names and function of every piece of equipment used on the fire ground. Don’t be afraid to ask an experienced firefighter or fire officer if you have a question. No one knows everything. Most of all be proactive. Let it be known through your actions that you wish to be a team member.
*Safety is in part a function of knowledge.
Best advice you ever received as a candidate/rookie?
Come to the oral interview prepared.
How do you define success as a fireman?
A successful firefighter is an asset to his or her community. Society wants to look up to someone. If you have a firefighter symbol on your personal vehicle understand people young and old looking at your behavior. You represent the front lines of the community. You will be counted on and you cannot fail.
None of this happens without an shining work ethic.
The successful firefighter is not about self. He or she is a team player. Money is nice but with this calling you would do it for the love of the job.
*Smile, keep it light. Be seen as a leader by those in need and those on your team.
It’s nice to see that Captain Morales and his firefighter blog, reinforces the importance of learning from those that have more experience from you.
There is no shame in not knowing, the shame is in not learning.