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Where are you stationed?
I’m at Station 10 (Troy Drive) on the B shift.
Why did you want to pursue this career?
I kind of fell into it. I started as a volunteer in Muskego, WI and wound up doing it more and more. I ended up going to UW-Platteville for Animal Science and was working on the ambulance out there but not going to class because I was so tired after my overnight shifts. So someone said, “Why don't you pursue fire fulltime?” I was applying all over the country but wanted to say here. Madison was always at the top of my list. My uncle was on the job in North Shore, and I've always been around public service. This kind of was always something I wanted to do.
What has been the most rewarding part of your experience so far?
I love to work, in general. I have so much fun here. It doesn't feel like work because I get to ride around in a big red fire truck. You truly do get to see that you make a difference in a lot of people's lives. We might be the nicest person somebody will meet today, or we're the only person that comes when somebody calls for help. That's the nuts and bolts of it. But the fact that you're excited to come to work—I don't know a lot of people that get to say that.
What are among the most memorable experiences you've had so far?
I think I was only two weeks out of the Academy when we caught a fire up here off of Nevada Road. It was true to everything that people have said about this territory: You get a quite a bit of time by yourself before the next rig gets here.
The August floods were memorable, too. We wound up all the way out on the west side, which shows just how busy we were. When we were over there, we were responding to a few EMS calls and a few “check welfares” – people who knew their neighbors were home but hadn't seen any movement and were concerned about them. So we were checking a lot of doors and making sure people were okay.
Looking back at the Fire Academy, what was the most challenging element?
The degree of experience levels—I think that was the most challenging. Our class had such a wide variance in experience. You had people who have been doing this quite a while now on fulltime busy departments and others who’ve never even put on an air pack before, and I’m somewhere in the middle. We also had a wide variety of life experience and field experience. I think there was a big learning curve for all of us, as far as learning the curriculum for the Academy and then learning how to work for each other. By the end of it, true to its design, we all worked very well as a team.
What advice would you give to someone hoping to join the MFD?
Get involved with the community. We live and die by the people we serve, and if you don’t know who they are, what their issues are, what they’re feeling, or if you don’t know the climate of this city from the top down, then you don’t know how to respond when you’re speaking to people on the street. It's important to know the state of the city, what people are feeling, and the only way you can do that is by being involved, whether you live here or not.
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