I’m going all the way back reviewing (for myself) my entire career on my blog. I have books of all my material but I want it in the digital format so I and my family can look back on any device. (I get it that I’m really the only one who will be looking at this stuff) So in 1983 my life changed when I got hired into the Prince George’s County Fire Department (PGFD). I had a sense I was on an upward spiral that I could only dream of at the time would turn out to be a fantastic career. My last posts started with shots of me as the Fire Chief and Interim Chief but I really wanted to capture my entire blessed career in a few posts. Being in retirement (again) I get to reminisce in a better state of mind. Looking back on my recruit era I see from the pictures and the hiring letter I received from PGFD I was on an adventure of a lifetime. Having never volunteered as a fire fighter I was learning a new language (Haligan Bar, hydrant wrench, pike pole, etc.) as well as a new culture. The fire service culture is quite unique. I could say a lot about the culture but I would be getting off track so I will mention that another day. In 1983 it was hard to imagine that there were very few African American fire fighters in Prince George’s County Fire Department (PGFD). Growing up in Washington DC I saw African American Fire Fighters all the time so I was a little taken aback when I was in recruit class and went into the stations.
The pictures show me in my dress uniform, at the Maryland Fire Rescue Institute and us preparing for a live burn. The bottom right picture was of our first structure fire burn. That day was incredible because it was vastly different from fighting fires in the burn building at the academy.
I have to say my instructors did a great job preparing me for the field. Al Gompers, Steve Allen, Darrell Odom, (just name a few instructors as my memory fails me) were well prepared to teach me and my fellow classmates. I am thankful to my instructors for introducing me to fire and emergency medical basics as well as the culture of the Department. Clearly my career demonstrated I had a great foundation. My memory of what it was like being a recruit is a little faded and thus I wish I had the internet back then to capture my career as well as my thoughts. If you are a recruit fire fighter and you are reading this or even if you are a veteran, do yourself a favor a keep a digital diary of you thoughts as well as your milestones throughout the rest of your career. You will be glad you did in the years to come. Even if I say so myself, I was one brave kid who struggled and even valiantly met the challenges of being a recruit fire fighter.