As a “39-and-holding” mother of three kids, I never imagined I would find myself re-entering the educational arena. And as a fire fighter, no less! My story starts shortly after I met the man of my dreams, as a single mom to kids ranging in age from 13 to 19. He is a firefighter, and made an appealing case as to why a career with the fire service would be a great way to give back to our community. The rural community we live in is sparsely populated, and fire/emergency medical service is provided by the rural volunteer fire department. The department is staffed on a volunteer basis.
During the past 20 years of my life, I have always been a volunteer of some sort. PTA President, remedial reading volunteer, youth sports coordinator, church activities: if there was a need, I was able and willing to help out. After two fires in our area garnered national attention, I began to wonder if becoming qualified to save others through fire prevention and emergency aid was something necessary ‘” and could I even pass the rigorous physical and mental testing to pass the exams?
Working as a personal trainer for six years of my life gave me an understanding of the hard work and perseverance it takes to maintain proper body composition. Fire fighting is an extremely physical job: hoisting ladders, pulling heavy hose over sometimes rocky terrain, and trekking for miles into the back woods carrying 45 pounds or more of gear are normal occurrences in our region of Colorado. I was still somewhat unsure, but after watching two fires ravish the mountains near my home, I decided that there was a way I could help out.
A few months ago, I took a leap of faith and began my quest to become a volunteer firefighter. From the start, I was issued my bunker gear and pager. I am on call 24 hours a day and have learned a lot by experience. We are required to carry the same certifications as professional firefighters do. In regard to Fire Academy, I will say that I’m somewhat thankful that most of my classmates are in the same age-range as I am. If you have a dream, or need a better way to make money to your family, support for higher education has been made available to adults looking to further their careers. Returning to school may not be the easiest step to take, but considering the gains that may be made for attaining a stronger knowledge base; I would say it’s definitely worth it.
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