Protecting And Serving Riverside County For Over 100 Years
CAL FIRE Volunteer Firefighter Academy Graduation
CAL FIRE Volunteer Firefighter Academy
This summer, twenty-nine San Diego, California residents graduated from CAL FIRE's Volunteer Firefighter Academy and are now volunteer firefighters with the department. The twenty-nine candidates ranged in age from 19 to their mid-fifties, and included three females, Kym McClary, Suzann Leininger, and Megan Bugzavich.
Kym McClary says that she never imagined growing up that she would become a firefighter, and is extremely happy with her achievement. She explains, "I'm 40 years old this month. I"m here with classmates half my age, being female. It's been quite an experience." Suzann Leininger echoes this saying, "I just turned 43, and I'm happy to be here among the youngsters." Both Suzann and Kym joined the program as a way to give back to their Palomar Mountain community.
At 23 years old, Megan Bugzavich became a volunteer firefighter at CAL FIRE's Campo Fire Station to gain experience and pay her dues in hopes of one day becoming a Career Firefighter. As the only female at her station, Megan is able to hold her own among her peers. She says, "I'm very petite. You can't tell under all my gear, but I'm very petite. It makes me work harder, push stronger, and I can work with the boys."
Fire Academy Instructor, CAL FIRE Captain Curtis Brown
The class was also an excellent experience for its instructor, CAL FIRE Captain Curtis Brown. He explains, "This is my first academy, basic volunteer academy. I learned patience because these are at a basic level. I've been fighting fire for the last 13 years, so it took me back to learning it all myself. So yeah, I did learn some things."
Fire Academy Graduation
All of the candidates had to complete a rigorous 8-week course, which was concluded with a graduation ceremony at the Pala Indian Reservation Fire Department. CAL FIRE reports that the graduation was attended by the largest number of family and friends in the academy's history. After the ceremony, the new firefighters performed a live burn demonstration, showing the skills that they learned during their training.
Interested in Becoming a Volunteer Firefighter?
When asked about how she felt about her choice to become a volunteer firefighter, Kym McClary said, "I would recommend it to anybody thinking about it. It's a great way of life, and we really enjoy each other and what we do out here, this thing that we do. I'm very proud."
If you are looking for a volunteer firefighting opportunity in your area, call 1-800-FIRE-LINE, a national hotline established by the National Volunteer Fire Council's Fire Corps to partner fire departments seeking volunteers with citizens who are interested in becoming a part of the fire service.