Monday, September 11, 2006

My Last Shift As A Probie.....

Well, I'm pretty sure at this point that I will be permenantely appointed to the Hartsdale Fire Department ( I have 'til midnight according to County Civil Servie rules tonight to get a letter saying otherwise, and the mail has already come!). Tonight, I will work my last shift as a Probie on Engine 171 in Hartsdale with my Group 2, under the command of Deputy Chief Macwhirter and Captain Vicari. I was appointed to the Hartsdale Fire Department as a Probationary Firefighter on 9-12-05, and assigned to "Probie School" at the Westchester County Fire Training Center in Vahalla, NY. At midnight tonight, I will be a full, regular, firefighter.

The previous year has been the best year of my life, and it all began in Probie School. I wish I had blogged my way through Probie school and since then, but I didn't. But let me tell you about my life and new career over the past year.

I spent my entire childhood growing up in Hartsdale, always passing by the Hartsdale firehouses and seeing Hartsdale firefighters and fire trucks go by and in my neighborhood for as long as I can remember. I don't remember ever wanting to do anything else, I always dreamt of becoming a firefighter. For a number of reasons based on experiences I've had with them, Hartsdale FD would be my ideal department, and as I waited and waited for my time to come, I began to have my doubts that this dream would come true. I have spent years building myself as the ideal canidate for the position when the time came, but would that time ever come? I had just finished my application process for Los Angeles FD, and that oppurtunity seemed like a more viable option at the time. It was well known that Hartsdale is very hard to get into, and they hadn't hired probies in a while. But, on September 8th of 2005, I recieived a letter appointing me as a Probationary Firefighter in the Hartsdale Fire District and assigning me to Probie School effective 9-12-05. I realized that I had not accomplished my dream, but that it only had just begun. I am blessed to have begun my dream career that so many others are afte and don't have a chance to get, in a department that is so respected and awesome

I walked into probie school as Seth, but walked out as a different Seth. Before school started, I knew that I would be attending with Timmy Mentrasti, who was also appointed to HFD with me. Other then that, I wondered about the other probies in the class, how the instructors would treat us, how demanding it would be. Over the course of the three months, I faced many challenges, and grew with every one. I am so proud to have attended school with the probies and instructors I did. Each and every one of them I learned something from, each and every one of them were supportive and enthusiastic. I, we, got through school as succesfully as I did because of them. I feel I had THE best probie class ever. Upon graduation, I was awarded the Instructors Award for Enthusiasm and Postivie Attitude, which not only was shown by me but the entire class. That plaque hangs on my wall today, as does a class photo of my probie class. It reminds me of what an awesome start I had to my career, and I will forever remember and be proud to be a part of Class 03-2005. The lessons I learned there, both professionally and personally, I will carry with high regard for the rest of my life. I hope all my fellow probies had just a great a year as I. "17".

Going on to the firehouse after graduation, I had the same nervous yet excited feelings about starting. What would the guys be like, would I be able to learn everything, and worse am I ever going to learn to drive that massive tower ladder down Hartsdale's tight and congested roadways? As the days went on, I learned more and more, adjusted to firehouse life and the equipment, and was assigned to Group 2 after being cycled through all the Groups on day shift. I am so proud to work with the 36 men and officers that I do. Each and EVERY one of them is completly awesome and has a HUGE heart, and I look up to and respect all of them. There is not one of them that will refuse to lend a hand when needed. In fact, they will automatically be there when you need them-it's like a sixth sense to them. They are very willing to teach and share their knowledge. They are very caring, always looking out for me and one another. Even the guys with 30 or more years on the job have just as much enthusiasm and energy as I do, with 1 year on the job. I have taken something and grown from each one of them. I am so thankful everyday I go into work to have the opportunity to work with, what in my opinion is the best fire department in the world, with the best firefighters in the world. I am proud to be a Hartsdale Firefighter, and will do my best to continue to learn from my brothers so I to can be like them. Coming up from a background as a Paramedic and 911 Dispatcher, I am so lucky to be able to have the privledge to work in the enviroment I now do and am truly appreciative of this dream.

And on another note, although HFD Groups 1 & 3 have seen fires, pin jobs, etc this year, I have yet to see a single flame. I know my "spurt" will come. I knew that Hartsdale, like many other department's, doesn't see as many fires as some other departments coming into the job. But we do have very large highly populated buildings, and very old dangerous structures, and that's why we are there. But as I've been taught, being a firefighter goes way beyond just putting out the fire......a firefighter can have a far reaching impact in their community, and I've witnessed that this year.

I will always remember 2006, being a HFD probie, as a great year. This year, I got engaged to the love of my life who enables me to suceed in this career, bought a home, and tommorow morning will walk out the door of HFD Station 2 as a permenately appointed Hartsdale Firefighter, with the term "Probie" a part of my past. I am very lucky and thankful for what I have, and for who I get to work with, and the experiences I have had over the past year. I remember where I came from, who I worked with, and everyone along the way that led me up to this year. My mother, sister, fiance', Orlando R,, friends, previous coworkers, brothers that are too numerous to list, and the City and County of LA FD' have supported and inpisred me throughout this to make this dream a reality,and I will never ever forget what you have done for me.