Rambler Newspapers

Serving Irving, Coppell and Grand Prairie

A Day in the Life of a Fire Fighter [PHOTOS]

Irving — When most people think of ‘a day in the life of a firefighter,’ they usually imagine flashing lights and piercing sirens as a fire engine races down a highway. They may think of shows like “Chicago Fire” or “Rescue Me,” where fire engines rush across town at all hours, putting out blaze after blaze, risking life-and-limb on a constant basis to rescue people trapped in buildings or homes too dangerous for anyone else to enter. It is a thrilling, dangerous, and often glamorized profession. But in reality, fire and flames are a small part of the job.

Rambler Newspapers recently sent a reporter to visit firefighters at Fire Station #12 in Irving for day, to find out what a day in a firefighter’s life is really like. Unlike the TV shows, a normal day at the fire station is pretty calm.

“In the 24 hours we’re here, we may have only one or two of those where we’re actually on-scene, actually in the community,” Firefighter Brian Logsdon said. “The rest of the time is spent [in the fire station]. We do things like cleaning toilets, mopping floors, doing yard work, cleaning the station, cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner, all those things that are just normal day-to-day activities. The lights and the sirens are exciting, but [these tasks] are really the major part of the day.”

Checking the equipment and making sure it is functional is another mundane, but extremely important job of a firefighter.

“We have to be at a state of readiness all the time,” Firefighter Rodney Vike said. “If we get on a call later this afternoon and something doesn’t work or doesn’t start, we know we checked it this morning and it worked fine. We can’t control what happens between now and then, but we can go into the shift with good conscious that we did everything in our ability to make sure that we’re at 100 percent, and the public depends on that.”

Most days, things are pretty quiet at the station until the moment an alarm breaks the silence, and the call for aid goes out. At that moment, these Irving firefighters immediately jump into action, ready to face down any danger they may encounter. But surprisingly, fires are not the most dangerous thing these firefighters face.

“[Working on the highway is] probably the most dangerous thing we do,” Vike said. “161, 635, any major highway, even the service roads can be dangerous. You have cars that are driving 60, 70 miles an hour on the service road, and they don’t slow down. Most drivers these days are so distracted with their electronic devices, and they’re not paying attention to the road. That, by far, is the most dangerous thing we do.”

The blocker program has been very effective in protecting Irving firefighters from harm on the roadways. Firefighter Bill Keetch explained this unique program, which originated with the Irving Fire Department, employs old fire engines as barriers to protect the fire fighters and equipment on the highway.

“[The blocker program] has saved us from losing front-line equipment, and it’s also saved our guys from being injured,” Keetch said. “It’s a very important thing that we’ve started, and also other departments throughout the state are now starting to follow. I believe Dallas has a blocker program they’re using now as well.”

Firefighter Robert Payne said once the call goes out and the firefighters arrive on the scene, all the little tasks fall by the wayside, and the team becomes focused on doing what they do best–saving lives.

“We cut up a lot here at the station, but when those codes go off, we all get very serious and we all focus on helping whatever that situation is: car accident, house fire, medical run,” Payne said. “We all become very focused on helping people and doing what it takes to get that situation resolved.

“Here at the fire station, [the most rewarding thing] is the friendships and family we build with each other here. But when you go out into the field, it’s getting that opportunity to help somebody, whether it’s a medical call or you assist somebody who really needs help. We do get some of those calls where they maybe don’t need an ambulance necessarily, but they still have a serious situation or someone’s really in trouble. When you can help them get to the hospital or get them out of trouble, it’s very fulfilling.”

“Everything we do, we don’t do it as an individual,” Firefighter Rodney Vike said. “We come to an emergency as a group, as a team. Everybody brings a different skill set to that problem. You can lean on that person’s strengths, and for the next call, someone else will have a really strong expertise in that area, and you can lean on him to take the lead. The teamwork is what really makes it work.”

You can view photos from our day with the fire fighters below:

Photos by Rodney Moore