David BartkowiakEighteen new firefighters graduated the MFD Fire Academy on November 6, 2015. We introduce them to you on the MFD Blog throughout December.

Current Station Assignment: 
Station 1 (Dayton Street)

Why did you want to be a Firefighter?
I'm a compassionate leader with a strong urge to make others' lives better, and I knew I didn't want to sit behind a desk the rest of my life.

I pondered my options many times. When I thought about the events that have brought me to where I am today, my mind kept circling back to how I've coached and mentored others and have been part of a team since I was 4 years old. Helping others and being “team”-oriented is what led me to this profession, allthough being a firefighter is much more than that!

Why did you want to serve in the city of Madison?
I grew up in the Madison area. All of my family and friends live within an arm's reach, and if there is anything in life that is most important, it is my family. Beyond that, the Madison Fire Department is a nationally-recognized career department and is known for its diversity. Having a staff from all walks of life, I needed to be a part of this organization. I want to be able to give back and help the people in my community in their time of need.  

What has been the most rewarding part of your experience so far?
The most rewarding experience thus far has been getting through the fire academy. It was fourteen long weeks but also the quickest fourteen weeks of my life. Working toward a common goal (to be able to help the community) with my peers has enlarged my work ethic to points I hadn’t realized. The sense of achievement I had, in my mind, far exceeds anything else that I have accomplished. I loved it, and it made me very proud to complete that training.    

Looking back at the Fire Academy, what was the most challenging element?
The most challenging element of the fire academy was not that there were expectations starting with day one, but the amount of expectations, as well as living up to the expectations on a daily basis.  

The rush of it all was a great feeling but very challenging to me. It is easy to see the shortcuts. Being able to ignore those shortcuts and continuously do what was expected of me every single day was no easy chore. But it had to be done in order to ensure the safety of my team and myself. 

The easiest part of the academy was investing in this lifestyle on behalf of the community and the department. Waking up every day knowing that I have the opportunity to better myself for the people in Madison kept this in perspective for me. 

What advice would you give someone hoping to join the MFD?
Two things: First, be a people person; and secondly, stay fit. 

As Chief Davis says, “Be a people person”.  That means putting others ahead of yourself and being compassionate to their needs. Work, volunteer, mentor, and interact with people, not because you have to but because you want to. This is something that you will practice on a daily basis at the Madison Fire Department. As you probably know, as a firefighter you will be held to a higher standard in the public eye. If you can accept this challenge, you will be fit for the Madison Fire Department.  

Secondly, stay fit. Staying physically fit ensures the safety of yourself, your team, and also the community.  It will be your duty to stay fit so that you can perform the job when needed. Staying on top of your physical fitness also ensures that you will live a healthy and positive lifestyle.

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Fire and a link back to the original post.

Category: General, Station 1