It means being on call, all the time. It means leaving my family for 2 weeks at a time to keep the visitors to the NYS Fair safe. It means walking miles per day inspecting colleges and universities across this State. It means permitting fireworks displays that the public enjoys. It means leaving my family to help communities recover from floods at a moments notice. It means responding on my days off to a fire that takes the life of a child, then digging for 3 days through the rubble to recover his body, all while my family misses me and see the physical and emotional toll the job has on me. It means putting others well-being before my own and being inserted into dangerous situations. It means leaving my wife and child to respond as an airplane fell from the sky 2 miles from my home. It means being away from my child and pregnant wife for a week to help the community and families recover from that disaster. It means countless hours away from my family to train, re-certify and respond all for the benefit of those who live and visit NYS.
I have been a Fire Protection Specialist for 17 years and have responded to incidents all across this state. When the citizens of NY need help they routinely call on us to help. Why? Because we never say no, and we get the job done. Often times when other say it cannot be done, we get it done. We are subject matter experts, trained professionals, firefighters, EMT’s and Medics. We have K-9 response teams and an Urban Search and Rescue Team. When New Yorker’s need help we are there for them.
I do this because I love my job. I was told find a job that you love and you will never work a day in your life. Prophetic. However, the author of that phrase never mentioned that doing what I love may not provide enough for my family to live comfortably. I, like many of my co-workers, have to work second jobs to live comfortably because what we do for a living does not pay well. I work 40 hours a week for the State of New York, on a regular week, and 24 hours more at my second job so that bills can be paid, money can be saved for college and we can do “fun” things as a family. But to do all that it requires me to be away from my family. I am very lucky, I have a very supportive wife and family that supports me. They never complain about my hours away, and always pull together and make things work in my absence. I knew going into public service that I would not be rich, however when I hear how much others in the State make to do less dangerous work I cannot help but be angry. The citizens of NYS are getting a tremendous deal when it comes to our labor and skill. As an FPS assigned to the life safety branch I am certified as such;
NYS code enforcement officer
NYS fire investigator
NYS hazmat technician
Nationally certified Fire Instructor
Nationally certified Fire Inspector
NYS Certified Paramedic
Masters of Science in Emergency Management
I am not alone in my education level as many of my co-workers are also educated and certified to similar levels. All we ask is that we are paid
- To our level of training and education
- Commensurate to our risk in protecting the civilians of this great state
- Comparable to others who perform similar duties.