Looking at the day in the life of a Topeka firefighter

By Jessica Cole
Topeka Capital Journal – October 25, 2017

Photo by Keith Horinek

Jason Boyd never thought about being a firefighter until a friend encouraged him to apply for a job with the Topeka Fire Department.

Now, after five years, he’s an advanced firefighter with Topeka Fire Station No. 10, who finds his job rewarding.

“It wasn’t always a dream of mine,” he said. “I always respected what they do, but I didn’t really get interested until I had a friend come on the department years ago, and he kind of encouraged me to get into it.”

Topeka Fire Station No. 10, 2010 S.W. 37th St., answers calls from Gage Boulevard to Adams Street and 37th Street to south of Topeka at the Shawnee County line. The station answers about eight calls a day, and as much as 15.

“No two days are the same,” Boyd said.

Q: What is your job?

Boyd: Advanced firefighter. I’m usually on the back of the truck, and occasionally I have the responsibility of driving the truck.

Q: What do you enjoy about your job?

Boyd: I enjoy helping those that need our help. I enjoy the group of people that I work with. (I) also enjoy the satisfaction we get from the community events (and) the educational events we do. We give out stickers to the kids. We do tours of the fire station with kids, also. I never realized how much kids really looked up to us as heroes.

Q: What kind of training have you had?

Boyd: I had to get my EMT license, which is required for just about every fire department because we are first responders. A large percentage of our job is running medical calls with AMR (American Medical Response).

I’ve also taken some college courses in fire science. Most everyone on the job has Fire 1 and Fire 2 training, it teaches the basics of firefighting. There’s a vast amount of other training that we go through. Once you get on the job, you’re constantly learning new skills and doing training. We usually try to do some form of training just about every day, even if it’s something on the computer. We try to make training as fun as possible.

Q: What kind of equipment do you use?

Boyd: We use a lot of medical equipment — blood pressure cuff, shears, tape. … (The fire hose) can pump up to about 200 to 300 gallons of water per minute. On most of those engines, there’s 750 gallons of water in the tank to start off with, and it takes about five to seven minutes to go through that whole tank of water when you’re working a large fire.

Q: How much does the equipment you carry weigh?

Boyd: The air pack weighs 30 to 35 pounds, plus gear makes it about 50 pounds total.

Q: What types of things do you have to be physically able to do?

Boyd: There is a physical agility part that is required for you to pass before you come on the job. There’s a certain amount of skills that they want you to display. Like being able to lift the ladders and carry the fire hoses. Lifting is required for the job.

Q: What shift(s) do you work?

Boyd: B Shift, a 24-hour shift — 6 a.m. to 6 a.m. every other day for three days a week, then off for four days. Twenty-four hours on, and 24 hours off.

Q: How long do you have to get your gear on and be on the fire truck to go to a scene?

Boyd: The lights come on in the rooms to let you know to get up. You have about a minute to a minute and a half. If you have on a T-shirt and shorts on, you just pull your gear on over it and go.

Q: Do you have others in your family, who are firefighters?

Boyd: I have a cousin who is a lieutenant at No. 10 station. His name is Damon Smith.

Q: What hobbies do you have away from the job?

Boyd: I enjoy going to sporting events. Go and work out quite a bit, and spend a lot of time with family. I do have a second job that occupies a little bit of my time. I do security over at Brewster Place. I’ve done that for a number of years. I’ve been there eight years.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page

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