Editor’s Note: For this edition of Ten Questions, The California Aggie spoke with senior communication major Kyle Dubs to get a feel for day-to-day life as a UC Davis student resident firefighter. The program, which began in 1955, teaches firefighting skills to a select group of UC Davis students.
1. How were you selected to be a student resident firefighter?
Every two years, we have an academy [to recruit new members]. It’s usually three weeks long, and about 20 people go through it. We select as many people that are needed – 15 students are needed at all times, and five on each shift.
All training is in-house and through the academy. I work about 90 hours per month – four 14-hour shifts and one 24-hour shift each month. We also have training on Wednesday nights and one weekend of every month.
2. What does your job entail?
It can be anything. We respond to any emergency on campus, anything from cleaning up water to helping someone in the public to putting out a fire – whether it’s a grass fire, house fire or vehicle fire.
We respond to any emergency and we’re here to help out. We also do maintenance and cleaning around the station.
3. Are you interested in becoming a professional firefighter?
Yes. Hopefully I’ve got all the training I need to get picked up somewhere through this program. It’s just a matter of finding a job and going through the recruiting process.
4. How many years have you been involved at UC Davis?
I’ve worked at the university fire department for three years.
5. What sort of training to do you have to go through?
At the academy, our training is based out of the [National Fire Protection Association] book. We go over drills, the history of the fire service … and each day of class we take a test.
During the fire academy, we are ranked on our drill performance – [program officials] put together a list and hire off that. So [the academy] would give you the basics, but there’s still a lot of training you need to do. Throughout the year, we go over [topics such as] vehicle fires [and] search and rescue.
6. How many fires have you extinguished while working at UC Davis?
Probably three or four house fires – that’s because our truck runs mutual aid with the city. They send their engines and we send our truck. [I’ve also assisted on fighting] about five or six grass fires.
But the majority of our calls are medical – I’d say about 70 percent.
7. What’s the best part of your job?
Just not knowing what to expect. It’s not the same thing everyday. Calls can vary – they can [be anything from] helping somebody with a medical need to going to put out a fire.
8. How would you sum up your experience as a student firefighter?
Life-changing. It’s really unique to get an opportunity like this. There are only about three other programs like this in the U.S. The knowledge you get is priceless.
9. What makes the UC Davis program unique?
Usually people go to a fire academy and then go to college [or vice verse]. Doing both [at once] is pretty much unheard of.
Plus, the knowledge you get from actually living and working at a fire station – it’s incredible.
10. Do you have any advice for students interested in participating in the program?
Put in an application. No experience is required. Next year we’re probably going to go out and start recruiting, but for now, you can call us at 754-0105 for more information and to get your name down on our listserv.
ANNA OPALKA can be reached at email@example.com.