“We train as if our life depends on it, because it does.”
During a tour at Fire Station 70, a journalism class from California State University, Northridge were told the reality of being a firefighter and the challenges they face on the job.
The students were accompanied by Captain Larry Jackson and Chief Fire Officer Stephen Ruda of Fire Station 70. Jackson and Ruda shared their experience working for the LAFD and explained the importance of risk management.
A firefighter’s duty can change several times, on and off the scene of emergency. Jackson said the best part of this job is that it’s consistently inconsistent.
“We really never know what our days are going to bring,” said Jackson. “We could go out to the biggest incident of our career right now, we just don’t know about it yet. That’s the exciting part of this job.”
Although exciting, having a career in the fire department can cause heavy amount of stress and pressure, both physically and mentally. Jackson explained how anything can go wrong in a time of emergency. When mistakes are made, he and his team gather to discuss the issue at hand.
“We usually come back to the fire station and sit around and kind of talk about it,” said Jackson. “What good there was. What bad there was. What could we have done different. What could we have done better. It’s very important to us that we try to do the best that we can every time.”
Jackson explained to be a firefighter you must have patience, tolerance and compassion. Under stressful situations, firefighters should keep the objective at hand.
“The calmer you stay on scene, the better control you have of it,” said Jackson. “It’s our job to take care of that problem. If we’re out of control, nothing is going to happen. You deal with it at the time.”
Along with Jackson, Chief Fire Officer Stephen Ruda serves as a front line representative of Fire Station 70. His job is to coordinate control in order to limit danger, damage and even death. Ruda said being a firefighter can be terrifying, but it’s their duty to push the fear aside and get the job done.
“There are monumental hours of routine scattered by shear moments of terror. That’s our job,” said Ruda.
Although firefighting is dangerous, risk management can help identify and correct hazards before and after incidents happen. Ruda explained the fatalities LAFD suffers and how risk management could help decrease those numbers.
“We risk a lot to save a lot. We risk nothing to save nothing,” said Ruda. “I’m not going to risk a lot if I’m not going to save a lot, but I’ll risk everything to save you and your family and I don’t even know you. We will do everything to make sure you know that because otherwise what good are we.”
Ruda and Jackson explained how continued training ensures efficient and safe outcomes on the job. Being a firefighter means team effort and they are only as strong as their weakest member.
Ruda emphasizes the importance of training. During a scene of emergency, minutes can mean the difference between life and death. The firefighters and paramedics of Fire Station 70 work safely and efficiently to ensure a successful call.
Jackson, Ruda and the members of Fire Station 70 train not only to save others’ lives, but also their own.
“We train as if our life depends on it, because it does,” said Ruda.