MARSHFIELD, WI (OnFocus) – May 4 is historically International Firefighters Day and a special opportunity to recognize and honor the sacrifices these men and women make to keep communities safe. It is also a time to thank past and present firefighters for their contributions.
In celebration of International Firefighters Day, local credit union MMCCU donated to Marshfield Fire & Rescue’s Public Education Fund, which is used to teach the community about various fire safety topics.
“We wanted to do something small to say ‘thanks’ to these men and women who do so much for our community,” said Carol Rae Kulibert, Operations Manager at MMCCU, whose son-in-law is also a firefighter in Manitowoc, WI. “MMCCU member is comprised of those who work in healthcare-related fields, and firefighter/paramedics are part of that important group. It’s important to recognize them.”
Firefighter/Paramedic Jacob Kenowski and Deputy Chief of Fire Prevention Everett Mueller accepted the donation on behalf of the department and shared what this day means to them.
“My dad had been a volunteer firefighter for over 30 years and ended up retiring as assistant chief,” said Kenowski, who grew up watching shows like “Emergency” and fell in love with the profession. “I grew up climbing on the trucks in my diaper. I’m from the Port Edwards area and glad to be able to give back locally to Central Wisconsin.”
International Firefighters Day includes showcasing aspects of the profession that the general public might not realize, and Kenowski said that one of the things he finds many people don’t know is the amount of schooling that firefighters undertake.
“Schooling is a huge part of our department in general. The more knowledge we know, the better we can take care of the community,” said Kenowski. “Most of the team at MFRD has an A.A.S. or Bachelor’s Degree and everyone at MFRD is a Critical Care Paramedic, meaning they have to take classes and recertify every few years.”
Though International Firefighters Day is more of a social media holiday, MFRD appreciates the community support on this day and year-round.
“Donations are utilized throughout the year in fire prevention programs,” said Mueller. “Freddie the Fire Truck and Ava the Ambulance were purchased that way.”
Ava was actually named after a child that donated her Tooth Fairy money to the department.
“We can all take a lesson from that little girl,” said Mueller. “As firefighters, we give a lot and we really love what we do. This day is a good pause for the entire nation to look at what this profession is and what we do for the community.”
For those considering a career in firefighting, Mueller encourages a passion for learning.
“Always have the willingness to learn. Our job changes on a daily basis,” he said. “For example, the car we used to cut apart for excavations is no longer the same… and that’s just one small part. Look at home construction and fire suppression. Today it’s all lightweight construction. From the time the call comes in, we have 3-6 minutes to respond. We have to constantly adapt.”
“The biggest thing I would say to anybody wanting to get into this profession is to stop at your local department,” added Kenowski. “Every department I know will welcome you with open arms, answer questions, show you around, and help you on the path to becoming a firefighter.”
For volunteer departments, Kenowski advises calling and leaving a message, but showing the interest is the biggest thing. He added that there is a lot of funding available to those interested in schooling towards a firefighting career, including funding available from the State to educate those interested in volunteer departments.
A new partnership with local schools is also designed to help educate students on firefighting career possibilities, providing job shadow opportunities and educational credits for high schoolers.
“It’s an awesome opportunity,” said Mueller. “As time gets tougher as far as recruitment, any time we can get people interested is important. We give tours, we’re looking at open houses, and we’re always open to people stopping in. And any time you have questions about education opportunities, we’re here to help.”
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