Firefighters I’ve found, don’t look at their jobs the way most people do.  That especially seems to apply to those trying to get into the fire service.  Becoming a firefighter becomes a singular, tunnel-visioned mission from which you either arrive with success (a job) or (pardon the pun), go down in flames.

Just recently I met a 24 year old guy who in the last 5 years has applied to over 150 fire departments, has had about 75 interviews, made it to the chiefs interview with two of those departments and was hired by none.  Like me, he’s got a degree in Fire Technology from Los Medanos College and has his EMT certification.  Unlike me he’s already been through the fire academy, has worked as an ER-Tech, and he’s been on far more ride-alongs and station visits than I have.

He sells memberships at a gym in Brentwood which is where I met him.  He seems to have resigned himself, at this young age to selling gym memberships and anything else where he can make a buck, but he made it clear to me that he’s given up on firefighting.  Nobody will hire him.

He’s young and that may have to do with it.  Fire Departments are often looking for slightly older and more mature candidates, but he didn’t seem immature to me.  He was well spoken and seemed like a pretty likable guy.   He was very well built, stood about 6 feet tall, and sure seemed to me to be a guy who knew what the road to firefighting was all about; knew it all too well even, and unfortunately he’s one of the “fallen”.