Question: How long have you worked for NCFPD?
Question: Why did you want to come to work for the NCFPD?
I started my career here at NCFPD as a Reserve Firefighter. NCFPD gave me the opportunity to serve when I started my career as an EMT-Basic Firefighter and so when I became a Paramedic, I couldn’t wait to come back to this department and serve them as a Paramedic Firefighter. After I got hired with NCFPD as fulltime Firefighter Paramedic, it was very apparent that this organization was heavily involved in our local community. I fell in love with this community and the people in it. This department is my second family and this community is truly a place I love. This is why I am here.
Question: What do you like most about working for NCFPD?
I think if you were to ask this question to any firefighter from any department, you would get a similar response. What we like most about our department, the opportunity to serve our community with our brothers and sisters in the service. We all truly have a love for this career of service, our fire family, and our community
Question: What does a typical day look like?
Well a loaded question. We really don’t have a typical day, this is one of the reasons I like this profession.
One day we could be delivering a child, fighting a fire, rescuing a trapped person, helping patients at a bus rollover, helping a child locked in a vehicle, saving a person using advance life support medication and skills, saving a person in cardiac arrest, and the list goes on.
We generally start the day off with a shift change. This is when an on duty crew, who has been on for 48 hours straight, is now being relieved by a fresh and rested crew. This crew will need to take responsibility for the engine, ambulance, brush engine, station, and all emergency response calls for the next 48 hours. We will need to get our gear onto the rig and perform a rig check out. This will then be followed by a brief crew question and greeting performed by the Company Officer for the day. Company officers then do an officer’s meeting with the overseeing Battalion Chief. This briefing allows for all five stations to meet over a video teleconference to get on the same page for the day.
Each engine effects all other engine movements, as each apparatus is strategically positioned to meet response plans for our district. We have a departmental calendar that is filled with station tours, community events, football game ambulance standbys, training, meetings, and other community fire department request. We do our best to manage making it to all these request, while responding to 911 calls.
Firefighters also have a requirement to maintain 20 hours of firefighting related training, two hour EMS training, and 15 hours of physical fitness training per month. So this requirement means we need to fit in two hours of firefighting training and 1 ½ hours of physical exercise each shift.
Many times, we are exceeding our training hours because our personnel have a desire to do our jobs better which requires a lot training. We also have a responsibility to maintain our station aka “our home away from home.”
We have the typical needs that a home full of 3-6 grown people sharing a home together have. So we have something called station chores. Mopping, vacuuming, window cleaning, dusting, painting, cleaning, yard work, organizing, etc. Our home is occupied every day and we frequently have guests from the community who come to visit. Many times those guests come with joyful little children and we increase the overall usage of our home. This day in and day out usage, really puts a toll on the station. Our carpets see a lot more foot traffic then most homes do, our toilets get used a lot, our doors open and close multiple times a day, etc. This creates a lot more wear and tear and will add new challenges each month. The roof is leaking, septic is overflowing, door hinges are loose, door locking mechanism are broken, the spring on the bay door just broke, the red light on the ambulance is out, chair in the kitchen just broke, etc. All these things can and have happen in one day.
So the average day, we are very busy.
Don’t forget we are here for 48 hours, so what are we having for dinner? This question is so important. We can have some of the most horrible days, in the sense that we see a child beaten, a parent is killed in a crash by DUI driver, a person’s home is devastated by fire, a person injured by an assault, etc. The one thing we can look forward to is a warm cooked family dinner together. This is a crucial part of our day. This is where, I believe, healing occurs for a lot of our members. So we really don’t have a typical day. The real question is how do you balance so many things in one day?
We just do.
Question: Are you involved in any programs (explorer program/volunteer etc.)?
I have been involved in a lot of programs while being a part of this department. Being a part of a departmental program is a huge money saver for our department. Most departments hire specific people to handle the various programs, but you will find that our firefighters here at NCFPD all wear multiple hats and all assist in rowing this boat. This has allowed for key programs to run successfully without someone being paid to specifically to manage them. Programs I have been a part of are: Lead Explorer Adviser for our Youth Fire Explorer Program, EMS (Emergency Medical Services) Supply Manager, EMS Continued Education Program Manager, New Hire Orientation Coordinator, and Communications Instructor. I am currently the department’s Public Information Officer and Community Outreach Program Manager. I am also a lead instructor at our County’s Wildland Drill.
I am also heavily involved in out Fallbrook Firefighters Association and have lead various community events. Pancake Breakfast, Make a Wish project for Parker Landis, 9/11 Remembrances ceremonies, and various fundraising events in the community. I have participated in various parades and ceremonies here in town. Currently, I am the chair of our 9/11 Memorial Hill Climb. This is our 8th year doing it and I have been the lead for the last five years. We just finished our last event. We had 420 community members in attendance and we raise $14,000 for several non-profits.
Question: To the best of your knowledge, what are the needs of NCFPD?
We have a modern fire service delivery system, but we are operating in our grandparent’s fire stations. The times have changed and we need to build facilities that will help us deliver better service to our communities. Station 4 a great example of these much-needed improvements. The station requires us to respond to calls by exiting one building and entering another locked building. This delays our responses! Once in the locked apparatus bay, the space is too small for people who need to pass each other to go to their rigs and get dressed out, further delaying our response. We have weight equipment that sits inside the same room that normally fills up with diesel particulates, which further expose us to known cancer causing agents. The number one killer in the fire service is…cancer and heart disease. Our builders didn’t know that when they built these stations long ago. Our stations are old and need attention. You saw how our day looks like, the older these stations become the more work they will require taking away time to do other more crucial task, like training for the next call. We have a diverse workforce, but most of our stations were created without that diversity in mind. How is a woman firefighter to sleep if we only have two rooms and five people working in a station? We need funds to fix all these very important issues.
Question: Are the conditions of some of the current fire stations hindering your work; if so, how?
Many were mentioned above. I want to be very clear, we as an organization have managed to adapt and overcome many challenges to provide excellent service to our community. We have provided excellent service, despite our station challenges. However, if the stations were built with our current delivery systems in mind, we can have an even more effective response force. Delayed responses because we need to leave one building to enter another building, crews that need to travel outside the district to go to a training towers to train, crews needing to get fire service classes at other departments that have a suitable classrooms to deliver State Fire Marshal training, gyms that are not in “diesel particulate apparatus bays,” better sleeping arrangements for a more rested crew, newer stations may not pose more “repairs” that require time to fix, allowing more time to train, etc.
Question: What are the consequences of THESE NEEDS not being addressed?
We will continue to respond to the needs of our community and will do the best we can with the situations we have. This is not ideal for our community members or firefighters. Some training days will be effected due to more frequent station repairs. Problems like station 4 and 6, exiting one building to enter another building to respond to a call will still exist. We will continue to respond as fast as we can, but our response would be better if we could fix these problems. Fire crews will continue to work out with equipment located in diesel particulate filled apparatus bays and hopefully will dodge cancer. We will continue to find creative ways to make accommodations for our diverse workforce, but hope we can do better than having someone sleep on a recliner to make that accommodation. So, we will continue to respond to calls and provide the best service we can regardless of the results because we love our department and our community.