Firefighter Jonathan ClinkscaleSeventeen new firefighters now serve at a fire station near you! Get to know them by subscribing to the MFD Blog.

Where are you stationed?
Station 11 (Morgan Way) on the B shift.

Why did you want to pursue this career?
I wanted a rewarding career and something where I feel like I’m giving back to the community that's supporting me. I like the physical aspect of the job, the camaraderie of the firehouse, and being on the team again. Being in athletics, I appreciate being the member of a team working toward a goal. That’s one of the things that attracted me to the job, along with the time you have to spend with your family. I have two young children, and I’ll be able to see them grow up. And they can tell the other kids at school, “My dad’s a firefighter!”

Why did you want to work in Madison, for the Madison Fire Department?
I’m originally from California, played football for the Badgers from 2002 to the 2004/2005 season, then played professional football and started coaching football before moving to Madison with my wife, who works at the UW. I wanted a good job, something I can be proud of. I bumped into one of my Badgers football teammates, Lt. Matt Mialik, and he told me about the hiring process at the fire department. I was a stay-at home dad for a year, and the second time the hiring process came around, I put my application in and got in!

What has been the most rewarding part of your experience so far?
Feeling like you accomplished something. The whole process was a long, stressful process, and it's nice to finally be able to accomplish something and know that I'll be able to save lives and be a good example. Things like that are important to me. I feel like I’m part of a team again and doing something positive.

Looking back at the Fire Academy, what was the most challenging element?
Learning the terminology and putting on all the gear. I don't have any previous fire experience, so I had no idea what anything was. It's like learning a whole new thing as far as fire behavior, lifesaving tactics, saving my own life if need be. It’s something totally different from anything I've done before.

I like challenging myself, and the Academy was challenging. It was more challenging than any training I’ve ever been through; I’ve been through NFL training camp, and that wasn’t as hard as the Fire Academy. I was an offensive guard, and in football you play hard for 10-12 seconds and then rest for 30 or 40. It's not like that at the Academy. It’s high-intensity, and it’s serious. It’s life or death. We’re not playing a game. There are no replays when you’re dealing with somebody’s life. You can’t say, “Can I try that again? I didn’t get in that window quite fast enough.”

What advice would you give to someone hoping to join the MFD?
Don't give up. Learn as much as you can. It's a long process, as far as the interviews, and don't think you can't do it. If you're a person that likes challenges, likes to learn new things, and if you don't want to be chained to a desk, then you should do it.

Before I was working here, I was collecting taxes—I was a revenue agent knocking on people's doors. It wasn't something I wanted to do with my life. This is a rewarding profession and I feel like it matters. Your whole job is to help people, and not everybody gets a chance to do that in their life. If you want that opportunity, if you want to try something new, want to push yourself or test your limits, I feel like this is something you should do.

Anything else you’d like to share about yourself?
I have a twin sister. She's the mayor of Compton, CA and is the youngest person ever to become mayor of Compton.

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 11