One of the few female firefighters that I met is Jodi McGee, a level II firefighter who has 19 years of service and is also an EMT-I with Fair Haven Rescue. I asked her what it's like in a male-dominated field.
"I just told them when I joined to give me a chance. If I can't do it, fine." Years later, she is still with the department and enjoying it. She encourages more females to give firefighting a try.
Doesn't every young child want to grow up and become a firefighter?
Karl Goodwin, an 18-year-old student, is a second generation firefighter following in his father's footsteps. He is currently attending the level-I firefighter class; during weekends he responds to emergencies with his father, Mike Goodwin. His favorite calls are structure fires.
"My dad got me hooked," he says while smiling. His future plans are to join the U.S. Air Force and eventually become a full-time career firefighter.
That brings up a curious thought: Do we really know what these brave men and women do for a living?
I came across a poem, penned by an unknown writer, that helps me realize just what a firefighter is all about: "He's the person next door. He has never gotten over the excitement of engines and sirens and danger. He puts it all on the line when the bell rings. A fireman is at once the most fortunate and the least fortunate of men. He saves lives because he has seen too much death. He's seen the awesome power of violence out of control. He's responsive to a child's laughter because his arms have held too many small bodies that will never laugh again. He appreciates the simple pleasures of life - the camaraderie of brave men and women - the divine peace and selfless service of a job well done in the name of all firefighters. When he marches, it is to honor a fallen comrade. He doesn't preach the brotherhood of man. He lives it."
Like all Rutland County fire and rescue squads, recruitment and retention are an uphill battle; it's foremost on the mind of Fair Haven's chief.
"We are always looking for good people," Howard said. "If anyone would like more information or is interested in becoming a part of this proud tradition, contact Howard at 265-8076.