Living his dream
Years of service: Volunteer, 7 years; full time 4 years
Honors: Hometown hero award
Proudest moments: The swearing in of my U.S citizenship, my fire academy graduation and my wedding.
Learning experience: Interacting with people and attending to their needs has taught me about respect, discipline, confidence, integrity and morals.
Funny anecdote: I was in the Goodyear fire academy in August 2007. One day while we were practicing hose placement for car fires, our training captain kept yelling at us to pull the hose closer and to go around the car, back and forth to each side. It was 115 degrees outside. We were wearing our firefighter gear and pulling 200 feet of charged 1¾ hose. We were tired and moving slow. Our captain kept yelling to not stop. As my partner was on the nozzle controlling the stream of water, I dropped the hose behind him, and he lost control of the hose. He sprayed the training captain, not once but twice, with a strong water stream right to his face and body. What happened afterward was not funny to us, but it was for the training crew as they watched the whole scene.
Why did you decide to become a firefighter? A high school friend’s dad was the assistant fire chief for the Gila Bend volunteer fire department. He took me to the fire station and asked me if I wanted to join and be a volunteer firefighter, but my plan was to join the Marines and travel the world. After spending a couple of hours helping wash the fire trucks one evening, we were about to leave the station when a call kicked out for a car accident. They asked if I wanted to go; they didn’t have enough manpower to deal with the call. I jumped on the truck and assisted on scene by holding a girl’s head while they put her on a backboard. I thought it was the coolest thing to be part of a team that helps other people. I wanted to be on that team.
Greatest satisfaction of serving: The look on a person’s face when we arrive at the scene, and knowing that I helped someone in an emergency situation or saved his or her life. I hope my health allows me to continue working as a firefighter until my retirement. I will have my 20 years in the fire service at age 38.
In closing: I am a proud Mexican, but I love the U.S. and will serve it by being a firefighter. I came from a poor family and now I am living comfortably, loving my job and have my own great family. I am the chair for our fire union charities committee. During the school year, I love to teach the fundamentals of fire science at a local high school.
I feel this country gave me a new life and the opportunity to do whatever I wanted, so in return, I can pay back by helping those in need. I encourage people to serve in any way possible. Give back to this country for the freedom it gives us to do whatever we want and live our dreams.