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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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Students learn how to become fire fighters at SBCC workshop

Ryan Cullom
Ventura County Fire Department Captain Barry Parker describes some personal experiences from his firefighting career as well as what it takes to become a firefighter at a presentation in City College’s Schall Career Center on Wednesday, February 3. Ventura County firefighters discussed their daily activities, testing procedures, personal experiences and fielded questions from the two-dozen attendees at the presentation.

City College’s Schall Career Center held a presentation explaining to students the process and basic requirements needed to join the fire department, on Wednesday, Feb. 3.

Captain Barry Parker, a seasoned firefighter of 21 years who works for Ventura County, led the presentation titled, “How to Become a Firefighter.

“The feeling of helping people, truly making a difference every day in people’s lives,” Parker said. “You can’t put a dollar amount on that.”

Being a firefighter is focused on serving the community rather than earning money, Parker said.  

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Parker was accompanied by two fellow firefighters, Alex Johnson and Marisol Rodriguez. Their goal was to walk students through the fire academy’s testing process.

Parker discussed the opportunities that come with this career, such as a diversity of jobs and flexibility of location.

However, the benefits are not easily earned. The academy receives 2,500 applicants every year. The testing includes a written exam, a medical inspection, a background check and an in-depth interview with the fire chief. The academy itself is a 16-week training process.

“We’re looking for not quantity, but quality of people,” Parker said. “We’re looking for a drive.”

Johnson, a firefighter who has worked in Simi Valley for two years, described the daily life of a firefighter.

They endure 24-hour shifts, with one day on and one day off, consisting of inspecting equipment and running through routines. Their plans can quickly change if a station receives a call. The number of calls received varies depending on the county and station.

“If there’s nothing going on that day, we go along with our plans,” said Johnson. “But we can receive 10 to 15 calls a day, and we just have to adjust.”

Working as a firefighter is a group effort, Johnson said. They live, sleep and eat at the station during their shifts, and group bonding is a 24/7 operation.

“There is not one best major suited to this job,” said Rodriguez. “What matters is how you communicate what you learned in that major.”

City College’s Career Center offers sessions which can help students in the interview process at the academy. Throughout the presentation, Parker urged those interested to contact a local fire station for more information.  

“It is a lot of responsibility, and that’s why we put you through so much before you get there,” said Parker. “That responsibility though, it’s awesome.”

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