By: Battalion Chief Mark Davis
Last Friday, Firefighter (FF) Lauren Wickson graduated from the Alexandria (Virginia) Fire Department's (AFD) Recruit School and began "life as a career firefighter" with AFD. Since 2011, FF Wickson has served as a volunteer firefighter with the Burtonsville VFD (C0 15) where she was also a "live-in" member."
The Montgomery County and Prince Georges County area is well-known for its student live-in programs at numerous volunteer fire stations across the regions. Folks from all over the United States have come to this region to gain experience, and education, and in many cases - employment as a career firefighter. In the 1st Battalion, the Burtonsville VFD is recognized for its long-standing live-in program - a program that FF Wickson was part of.
We asked FF Wickson to tell us "her story" about how she got here.
"I am originally from just outside Detroit, Michigan and first came to the Silver Spring, Maryland area in the summer of 2007 to work as a camp counselor," started Wickson. "I really liked the area and the people that I had met out here and thus returned the following summer. I basically just stayed out here and worked various jobs. I was looking for different career opportunities and obtained my Emergency Medical Technician certification from a community college. I joined Burtonsville in 2011 as an EMS member to obtain affiliation for my Maryland EMT-B certification with literally no knowledge of the fire service and no idea that I would one day try to become a career firefighter! It was a totally new and foreign world to me - but I loved it from day one."
She continued, "During my first year I asked a lot of questions and became more and more interested in the 'fire side' and took fire classes at the Montgomery County Training Academy in early 2013 and fell in love with the job. I moved into the firehouse that summer and worked to learn as much and get as much experience as possible. I had still been working various jobs but knew this was what I really wanted to do as a career! I started applying later that year and was fortunate to get an offer from the Alexandria FD in September 2015!"
We often hear the question from the public, "How did you to decide to become a firefighter?" When we saw the FF Wickson story, we thought this is a good place to start. Many thanks to Lauren for agreeing to share her story and congratulations on the new job!