Bakersfield Fire Department is always ready to serve


Photo Credit: Chad Mullen Firefighters respond to a fire northwest of the intersection of Q Street and 21st Street.

By Norma Hernandez

Opinions Editor

Captain Kris Reynolds and firemen Brett Perry and Alex Blanton gathered in their squad room at Station 2 for lunch while watching an episode of “The Office,”  – the one when Dwight teaches his colleagues about fire safety.

The lights in the room brighten as an indicator that they were being called for an emergency. Blanton paused the episode, they all covered their meals, and headed to the fire engine.

Perry drove while Reynolds sat in the passenger seat and Blanton sat in the back. The garage door opened, and they began their ride. The sirens turn on and all the cars on the road pulled over to the side.

“Engine one fire two, engine one fire two,” said the 911 dispatcher.

Blanton put on a pair of white latex gloves and prepared as they arrived at the Kelly F. Blanton Student Education Center. They were the first to arrive at the scene.

They quickly exited the fire engine and walked through the front doors of the main entrance. Upon entry a young girl was visible on the floor.

An ambulance approached as the people in the building could hear the sirens.  Three female paramedics entered the building along with a gurney. Blanton and one of the paramedics tried to lift the girl on to the gurney, but struggled as the girl was unable to fully stand up straight.

“Almost there,” said Blanton as he carefully put the girl on to the gurney.

The paramedics took the girl to receive help and the firemen headed back to their station to finish their lunch.

Between handling a variety of emergencies and working long hours, firefighters have a stressful job. But the firefighters of the Bakersfield Fire Department say they are happy to serve their community.

Both Blanton and Perry grew up playing sports and aspired to work in a career where teamwork is crucial, while also being able to help people.

Not just anyone can be a firefighter. A shift consists of being on call for 24 hours at the station. Fire Station 2 is equipped with twin beds, a kitchen, a dining room, a hangout room, and showers to provide them with the basic essentials they will need during one of their shifts.

“You’re really married to your job,” said Reynolds.

Working as a firefighter can take a toll especially if they have families.

“We don’t get to choose [our schedules],” said Perry, “We work on our son’s birthday, we work Christmas, [and] we can’t go home for lunch.”

During a call for a fire, Reynolds, Perry, and Blanton put on their personal protective equipment, also called turnouts, before leaving the station. They wear clothes that weigh up to 60 to 70 pounds while also working in hot climates.

On the way to the residence where the fire took place, Blanton strapped on a self-contained breathing apparatus, which assists firefighters’ breathing in unsafe airs.

The residence appeared to be abandoned, however a small stack of smoke emanating out of a window indicated otherwise.

To Reynolds, Perry, and Blanton, this interior fire was a small emergency, but no matter the size, they still take the precautions needed for their own safety.

After the fire was put out, anyone who was inside the house was considered contaminated and had to be sprayed with water to remove any chemicals they could be cancerous.

“They hose you down to remove any last debris because they can be cancerous,” said Blanton.

Once they were cleaned up, they headed back to the station. As they pulled into the garage, all three came out of the fire engine and removed their gear and put their clothes in the washer to get rid of any other carcinogens.

Firefighters risk a lot while giving back to the community, so their mental health has to be looked after.

“Through our wellness program that we’ve really been hammering this year, we have people in place to help with any critical distress,” said Reynolds.

The job comes with the responsibility to help people in an emergency, but sometimes they can’t save everyone and for some that can affect their personal lives.

“We have people who’ve suffered from [post traumatic stress disorder] and it’s affected their lives,” said Reynolds. “Any major incident affects you and sometimes it’s an accumulation of a ton of types of calls that can affect people.”

The BFD will continue their efforts to better serve their community under the new Bakersfield City Fire Chief, Anthony Galagaza. He believes community members will see an even more strong, positive and efficient department. Galagaza said that he can only do so much and it really takes the men and women to provide these great services.

“It’s what’s down inside that matters to me and knowing that I’m making a difference and helping in situations where I can provide them really makes me feel fulfilled,” said Reynolds.