Feb 25, 2014
Story by Heather Melendez
On Wednesday February 12th, the participants of the Youth Congress Leadership Program had the wonderful opportunity to visit Fire Station #89 of the L.A County Fire Department. Through informative discussions, and an in-depth look at both a fire engine and a fire truck, as well as the many tools used to combat fires, the young leaders have an even greater appreciation of the work of firefighters. They also grasped the importance of team work and unity needed in order to create a positive and successful environment.
First, we began our visit with a detailed discussion on how one becomes a firefighter. As the conversation progressed, we began to learn the competitive nature of this field. Sometimes it can take fifteen years just to be hired! It took our speaker quite a while but he ultimately made it into the field with dedication and persistence. As mentioned, it is these key factors that ultimately can make any leader in any field successful. He proceeded to tell us about the work hours for firefighters, their yearly schedule, and his experiences. He also mentioned the growing importance of consistently passing exams that will allow each firefighter to become more knowledgeable in the field.
Next, we learned background information about the fire engine such as what it means to wear an orange hat, where specific firefighters sit in the truck, and how the varied 9-1-1 calls call for different defense measures. Wearing the orange helmet signifies who the captain is and having a specific seat in the fire engine demonstrates a person’s rank and job as well. Ultimately, each person plays an important role; without one, the efficiency of the team will be in jeopardy. We even had a first hand experience of trying on their suits! The weight of the suit, as well as carrying tools and an axe, taught us about not only the mental factor but also about the physical expectations in this field.
Lastly, we were introduced to the rich and varied uses of equipment and how they were organized on the fire engine. With the striking growth of technology, it is no doubt that these firemen only use the best technology when it comes to their job. From defibrillators to special goggles that allow firemen to see the body heat, they explained the purpose of why these tools were made of certain materials and demonstrated how they were used. They even passed around some of their tools. This was very exciting.
As the tour came to an end, the Youth Leaders and Firemen took a picture together and the students have an even greater appreciation and respect for their service to the community.