‘You’ve got to move with purpose’
ALPENA — Jacob Ordway said firefighting is a lot of problem-solving.
“If you like problem solving situations — even if there is six or seven different problems going on at the same time — if you like doing that stuff it’s not that bad,” he said.
He has been with the Alpena Township Fire Department for about three years. He was first hired as an extra set of hands around the department.
“Then I was a paid on-call. I just recently got onto eight hour shifts on the township fire,” he said.
To train he first went into EMT classes for about 10-12 months.
He took a six month break then started at the fire academy.
“It’s a lot of hard work and I guess there’s a lot of different processes to learn. There are six to seven categories you have to be fully up to speed on. There are also about three components to a call. The first thing is always the safety aspect,” he said.
Secondly, they learn how to stabilize the fire. The third is property conservation.
“When you stabilize the event and you kind of mitigate the hazard. Property conservation is taking the homeowner’s belongings and taking them outside to not further expose them to water,” he added.
One of the reasons he trained to be a firefighter was because his mother was an EMT downstate.
“I was kind of born into it. I originally became a car mechanic. It’s what I went to school for. It didn’t work out too well,” he said.
His family is super proud of his job because the amount of work he’s put into the training and to receive the certifications he said.
He enjoys the work because of the people he helps. He said the key factor of his job is to help people when they need it the most.
Because of the difficult nature of firefighting Ordway said it’s best to lean on his fellow firefighters.
“Life at the fire station is like being at your own house. They’ll be days I’m working eight hours shifts, 4 p.m. is my shift ending time and it just flew by. The main thing is hard work improving yourself, what you can do. If you do your hard work and do your 110 percent. They’ll take you on with open arms,” he said.
They often rely on humor to keep spirits high during difficult events, he said.
“It’s a lot of basic jokes. Sometimes with some of those tougher scenes we’ll tell each other jokes to keep spirits up while still being respectful of family,” he said.
If someone is interested in becoming a firefighter he has a few suggestions.
“Work your hardest and prove to others there’s something in you. You’ve got to move with a purpose,” he said.
Jordan Spence can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5687.