What would we do without firefighters? Besides putting out fires, firefighters rescue people and animals from car wrecks, collapsed buildings, stuck elevators and many other emergencies. Firefighting is a job that requires bravery, strength, quick thinking and a wide range of skills.
Rogers Arkansas Fire Chief Tom Jenkins loves to have kids over to the station and talk about fire safety and the work firefighters do. And kids love learning about firefighters.
“I think kids grow up learning in books and on TV that they can trust firefighters,” Fire Chief Jenkins said. “What we try to say to our young citizens is a lot of what we do is not just firefighting. We handle all kinds of emergencies.” In addition to putting out fires, the duties of today’s firefighter include treating sick or injured people, preparing written reports on emergency incidents, cleaning and maintaining equipment and conducting drills and physical fitness training.
“Another myth is that we still find some children’s books talk about firemen,” Chief Jenkins said. “Today, here in Rogers, we have five full-time women firefighters and they are first rate. It’s always fun to connect with young girls who may not have thought about a career as a firefighter and let them know they, too, can do it.”
Fire safety is the number one message Chief Jenkins tries to teach children when they come to the station. It starts with respect for fire, and understanding that fire is not a toy and it needs to be taken seriously.
“If your home catches fire, you need to get out,” Chief Jenkins said. “And you never go back in for your toys, or a pet or even another family member. You stay out in the time of an emergency and let the firefighters handle it.”
He also reminds kids to dial 911 if they see a fire. If you happen to catch fire yourself, you stop, drop and roll.
And what are the first steps if you are thinking about a career as a firefighter?
“Well, I always joke around saying that firefighting is one of the few jobs left that is really fun,” Chief Jenkins said. “You aren’t going to get rich quick but it is probably the most rewarding job you can have. And we remind kids that the first quality you have to have is being trustworthy.”
Chief Jenkins points out that any poll taken in our country, or around the world, firefighters are ranked as the most trusted people in a government position. And that, he says, is a real responsibility.
“You need to be trustworthy as a child and stay out of trouble if you have your eyes set on becoming a firefighter as an adult,” Chief Jenkins said. “You have to get good grades and get through high school. Most departments require that you be an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician). And if you want to get promoted up you need a college degree when you get to a certain level.”
Firefighters are trustworthy, brave and work hard to keep us safe. We’re grateful for firefighters!