by William Crum
I had the opportunity to go behind-the-scenes of what it takes to be a fireman.
As a child I wanted to be a fireman. How fun it would be to ride on a fire engine putting out fires and helping people as well.
While there recently, I really had the chance to know the firefighters behind-the-scenes, the individuals, their personalities and what they’re made of. I had the chance to talk to them, including the operations chief, Floyd Reberry, and two other firefighters. They were Shawn Lampson and Olinton Shumate.
When I talked to Floyd he explained to me about the duty board that was retired. This board has been retired since 1992, he said. In the future, like other departments, the fire department is going to go totally digital. They have to keep up with the times. They really have to take care of the equipment; here we take pride in what we do, Floyd said.
As I proceeded upstairs I had a chance to have dinner and really get to know them. Many of them are family men who believe in the community, believe in the department and of course believe in the family as well. These are people of high honor, respected within the community. Many of them do a lot of volunteer work within the community.
One firefighter, Shawn Lampson, is relatively new to the fire department, and has been there 6.5 years. He is married and has a 10-month-old baby at home. He got his degree from Kansas City Kansas Community College in fire science. He also has a bachelor’s degree in business.
He said his goals are to try to get a position as a driver, and that will be possible when he has seven years of experience. He said this was a great career, and he plans to be here for the rest of his life. Like any job it has its good and bad points, he said, however the good points outweigh the bad many times over. He said he really enjoyed being here; everybody he works with is great, and they really work as a team. They all get along with each other, he said. At times it may be stressful, especially at home, however, his wife understands. He tries to spend as much time as possible with his family, he said, and he can’t wait until his newborn gets older, how much fun he and his wife will have.
Another firefighter I interviewed was Olinton Shumate. He is a 25-year veteran. The reason he became a firefighter is he really enjoys helping people, he said. He plans to retire from the department. This is his career and he really enjoys it, he said.
After the evening was over I learned a lot. It is not as easy as you think being a firefighter. They go to a lot of education and training. It takes a lot in today’s society to be a firefighter and it takes a different type of person to be a firefighter.
As I left the fire station I thought about the legacy of the Fire Department. Many years ago I had the opportunity to know former Fire Chief J.T. Crossland, who was a phenomenal man himself. This year I had the great opportunity to get to know Chief John Paul Jones and many members of his staff.