The Future Firefighter Podcast
"Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours."
– Richard Bach
In this episode, Chris Baker sits down with Rescue Captain, Justin Schorr, "the Happy Medic" to talk about what he's learned over the last 25 years in the fire service and why one of the worst pieces of advice is "get your Medic." While obtaining the license will get you on a smaller list when hired, there's a catch, they want you to work as a medic when you get hired. Find out more about what EMS means to the Future Firefighter and listen to this episode.
"Should every Future Firefighter become a Paramedic? In one word, Yes. EMS is the future of the Modern Fire Service so each candidate should have a grasp on their place in the system as they get hired. Paramedicine isn't for everyone. There's a lot of stress involved in not only obtaining the license, but maintaining it and, of course, being responsible for the care of your patients." (Schorr)
"When you get hired as a Paramedic, here's a hint...they need you as a Paramedic." (Schorr)
"All that I am I owe, I live eternally in the red." – Dr. Carl Holmes
THE FUTURE FEMALE FIREFIGHTER
"I can’t help but tell you that it’s all about the mentorship. Without the direction and guidance of those who have come before us, there is no way that either one of us would be here. The main message I want to relay to everyone is this, we can’t do this job alone. Whether you are a woman or a man, you are going to need the advice and the guidance that we all need in every profession to succeed and thrive." – Assistant Chief Nicol Juratovac
"The thing about mentors is they believe in you more than you believe in yourself." - NPJ
The stage is set. Family members, friends and mentors are in the audience, patiently watching you on stage for your pinning ceremony. Few milestones in life are held in such high regard. The moment when you find the one you want to spend the rest of your life with and marry to become your significant other. The birth of a child is also a moment that you will truly treasure and never ever forget. And this day, when your dream career profession came true, and you were pinned with the badge of a public servant.
The oath of a public servant is an oath of dedication to a lifetime of customer service. Remember this moment when you committed to serving your community. The work of a public servant is never-ending in the pursuit of service. At the end of every call is an opportunity to engage members of our community positively. There is no greater reward than a lifetime of service.
My challenge is for you to find an inspiring mentor in this profession. Allow yourself the opportunity to become his or her mentee. Develop into the Firefighter and leader that you desire to become. Accept constructive criticism in stride and strive to become a better person daily. Respect their wisdom with grace and listen to their feedback with enthusiasm. Leaders lead by effectively developing future leaders from within their ranks.
The role of every Firefighter should be to help the future Firefighter receive their dream career position. Pay it forward and give back daily to the future of the fire service. Find those golden opportunities to inspire the members of your community also to become future public servants. The future of our profession requires all of us to actively engage these future members in a positive and meaningful way.
Your experiences throughout your career are yours and yours alone to mold. Be sure to make the most out of each experience to elevate your future success. As a public servant, it is up to you to continue this lifetime commitment of service beyond self. The future of the fire service rests firmly on your shoulders.
In my fire service career, I have worked many different shift schedules. When I started as a volunteer, I signed up for 24-hour shifts on a Kelly Schedule as a paid reserve. About a year later, I received the opportunity to be a wildland firefighter and transitioned to the 72-hour shift schedule. As a wildland firefighter, I soon discovered what strike team deployments were, which involved chasing campaign fires all over the State of California. The next shift assignment I worked on was a little different, and it was a rotating 12-hour schedule between day-night shifts. My body never knew what time it was, and I learned that I could sleep just about anytime during the day.
My last shift assignment was more common, called the 48/96 schedule, working two straight days in a row. This assignment is known as the “commuter schedule,” and I was indeed a commuter for three years. My residence was three hours one way from my duty station, and this commute made it extremely difficult working in a very busy system. On this schedule, I drove my personal vehicle three hours to work, and I was driving the fire engine for a total of 24-48 hours at work. There were some nights where you were known as the “Sleepless Knights,” and you didn’t get any rest while on duty. I would drive home after my shift and sleep a full day once I got back home.
I am sharing all of these different shift assignments to paint a picture of all the various work schedules one could have in their Fire Service career. In my earlier years as a seasonal wildland firefighter, I would work a whole 28 days in a pay period. This was known as “Blocking out,” a pay period. If you were fortunate, one could block out two pay periods in a row if you were on a lightning siege or a significant campaign fire in Southern California. I met my soon-to-be bride during this schedule and discovered more to life than just being a firefighter.
Over the last seven years I have been married to my bride, I have struggled with maintaining the work-life balance for various reasons. The demands of a public servant are extreme with overtime, shift trades, mandatory training, off-duty community events, union meetings, and of course, vacation - sick coverage. It is extremely easy to pour yourself into the demanding role of a public servant in the fire service. Unfortunately, it is also very easy to let the fire life consume you!
Then life happens with starting a family, and you begin settling down with children. This is when life and its responsibilities sink in. Then you start struggling with this whole work-life balance concept. You want to be at home with your family, and you also want to be a dedicated public servant at the same time. I almost felt like I was living two different lives. One of those lives was at my home residence with my family, and the other life was at the firehouse with my work family.