Meet Apparatus Engineer Michael O'Connell
What is your new station and shift assignment?
I am currently assigned to the “road” on the 'B' shift, meaning I fill vacancies across the city as needed.
What was your previous position and station assignment?
Prior to being promoted to Apparatus Engineer, I was a firefighter on the 'C' shift assigned to Fire Station 8 on the east side. I'd been there since 2014, where I was also a core HURT (Heavy Urban Rescue Team) member.
How many years have you served with the MFD?
I’ve been serving the City of Madison on the Madison Fire Department since September 2012.
What are some unique challenges of being a “roving” AE?
Some unique challenges of being a “roving” AE are learning all of the rigs and territories. We are fortunate to have the fleet of vehicles that the city affords us; however, they all have little quirks and nuances that you need to learn as you move around the city operating them.
The territories can also be a little tricky, especially as the summer construction season ramps up. It helps to have a good officer and good firefighters that know their territory and can help you get everyone where they need to be as safely and efficiently as possible.
What do you do when you're not working at MFD?
When I’m not in the firehouse I’m usually out and about doing something. I enjoy spending time with my wife, our new 8-month-old daughter, and our two golden retrievers. I also have two part-time jobs that keep me busy on my off days. Some hobbies I enjoy are thru hiking, rock climbing, hunting, golfing and playing hockey every Monday night.
What advice would you give someone who wants to learn to become an Apparatus Engineer?
Get checked off to be an AE in an acting capacity as soon as you are comfortable doing so. Shadow your AE during the morning checks. Ask questions to learn as much as possible about the apparatus and the pump. Don’t forget that being an AE is more than just driving. You are expected to be proficient with every piece of equipment on that rig and to be proficient with pumping every line that comes off. You are also responsible for the safety of each individual assigned to that rig and that is something that should not be taken lightly.