Yesterday I was given the opportunity to do a ride along as an observer. I met with Fire Chief Pendergrass at seven in the morning and signed the waiver that allowed me to ride along. He explained to me the procedures and responsibilities I had as an observer.
I was then introduced to the crew on shift for the day. Captain Dustin Costa, Engineer Matthew Martinez and firefighter Onatis Illan were the gentlemen I spent my day with. I also met the station dog, an english cream golden retriever named Asher.
After a delicious bowl of strawberry oatmeal for breakfast, the first call came in. The laws surrounding patient privacy prevent me from going into details. However, I can say that the call was for a medical aid. That means the person who needed help called for medical assistance and the fire department assists until an ambulance arrives.
I asked each fire fighter why they joined the department and how long they’ve worked for Hanford Fire. Captain Costa has been a firefighter for 15 years with HFD. He joined out of the academy. His father used to be a volunteer firefighter for the City of Lemoore and he grew up around that.
Matthew Martinez, the engineer, joined the Hanford Fire Department in 2016. He said 9/11 was a large factor in his desire to be a fire fighter. Onatis Illian has been with the department for four months. He is fresh from the academy and has a promising career ahead of him.
As the day continued, I learned all about the station and the different equipment that is used. A fire station is truly a second home to the firefighters. With a bedroom for each firefighter, a kitchen, living room and dining room, station one was very homey.
The engine that is housed at station one is called Engine 41. This is because the county fire department has an engine one and the different name helps to prevent confusion. This engine can seat four in the compartment as well as the driver and front passenger. As the engine is very loud, we had headsets with microphones to communicate with.
As station one is the headquarters, it has the administrative offices on the other side of the building. I met Gloria, the Administrative assistant and Alejandra the clerical assistant. These two magnificent ladies are responsible for filing paperwork, fielding phone calls and ensuring things run smoothly.
I spoke with Christy Whittington, the department’s first female Fire Marshal. She was very friendly and helped me to understand her job. Christy is responsible for fire prevention and safety. One of the many tasks she has is to inspect buildings to ensure they meet fire safety code. She also enforces code violations.
Fire Chief Steve Pendergrass was interviewed by me several weeks back for the blog. He is the new fire chief of the Hanford Fire Department. He has been in his position since October 2019. This October will make his one year anniversary of being chief.
I spent a portion of the afternoon sitting in on a CPR training class. I learned quite a bit about CPR. For that training members from fire station 3 attended as well. They are the station with the ladder truck. I was shown the truck which was extremely fascinating.
Lunch time was a fun experience. During our meal we had a call for medical assistance. After the call was resolved and we returned to the station, I had a moment to appreciate the sacrifices our firefighters make. Leaving in the middle of a meal may seem small but it is a sacrifice all the same.
One really cool thing about station one was the pieces of history throughout. As pictured above, they have the original fire engine from the early 20th century. In the main hallway is a case full of antiques from the time Hanford Fire Department has been active to now. The appreciation for history was something I enjoyed.
As my ride along came to an end I was sad to leave. The camaraderie and family like environment was amazing. I truly appreciate the opportunity to be there and would like to return in the future.