Last Saturday morning, while most people were enjoying their coffee the eight reserve firefighter hopefuls for the Lathrop Manteca Fire District were busy doing a lot of pushups.
They were doing 343 to be exact – one for each of the New York City firefighters that lost their lives at Ground Zero on September 11, 2001.
In full turnouts and wearing an self-contained breathing apparatus unit and mask, the eight reserve hopefuls worked side-by-side with reserve program coordinators until they hit the mark – the first in a long series of steps that will hopefully eventually end with them riding on an engine under the supervision of a company officer.
According to Lathrop Manteca Division Chief Larry Madoski, the reserve program – which brings a new class in every several years as the need arises – is an integral part of the operations of the independent district that relies on those willing to work to get experience in the field of fire service to provide the level of service necessary to service a growing community like Lathrop.
“It’s super critical – a majority of our reserves are individuals that are looking for a career in the fire service, and this provides them with the opportunity to explore the career and work at a fire station under the leadership of a company officer within the LMFD so that they get the necessary training to essentially respond to emergency scenes and save lives,” Madoski said. “When they’re done, they have met the state subjects for what an entry level firefighter should know, and they get the knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform in a capacity that is under supervision.
“These reserve positions will help augment our staffing to assist in the delivery of emergency services.”
While those working as reserves for Lathrop will need their academy certification if they wanted to be hired full-time, the program has provided many with the on-the-job experience needed to learn whether they actually wanted to commit to doing this for a career – propelling them into an academy and later on to work for a variety of different agencies in the area.
Getting that experience, Madoski said, can help somebody learn that this isn’t really the career that they thought it was, or realize that there’s nothing else that they could see themselves doing.
“We’ve had our reserves go to other municipalities in the surrounding region, and it’s a great opportunity to see if this the career that they really want – or not,” Madoski said. “Some people think it’s a good career choice and the more that they get into it they decide that it’s not appealing to them, so they make other career choices.
“But more often than not this is a launching pad for those who want to get into the fire service, and this experience proves to be invaluable.”
Out of the current class of reserve candidates, Madoski said that several are coming in with their EMT certification while a majority have already completed an accredited fire academy.
The training for this first academy will take place over the course of two weekends, and a second class is expected to participate in the same training in October – bolstering Lathrop Manteca’s ranks even more to a potential 19 new reserve firefighters.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email email@example.com or call 209.249.3544.