By: Laurie Carlson
“If you are a person who says you are going to do something you do it. Being a firefighter definitely takes some devotion to the job. One of the biggest parts of the job is having integrity,” said Chris Wood B-shift fire captain of South Salt Lake station 43.
A firefighter is someone who is dedicated and perseveres when things are at their toughest point.
“To be a good firefighter you need to be able to work as a team, know your job well and know your teammates jobs’ well. You need to be eager to learn and continue to move forward with education throughout your career. “
“We put others before ourselves but keep our own safety first. It falls on the captain to send us home safe,” said Israel Estares, a firefighter who works on Wood’s crew.
The day-to-day job of a firefighter is never the same.
“We train, we shop, we cook, workout, as well as give tours and do inspections. We eat and – hopefully – sleep. We get called to everything. We could be called to a cat in a tree, to sick people, to fires. That’s the fun of the job when the siren goes off it could be anything,” said Jared Christensen, a firefighter who works on Wood’s crew.
They could be back in five minutes or they might not ever come back.
“You could go pick up a drunk man off the street and 10 minutes later you could be holding a dead baby. You could be so far into a fire you can’t even see your hands. In a 24 hour period I have run from 1 to 47 calls. You just never know,” said Jared Christensen.
Wood has been a firefighter for 15 years and has been fire captain for 8 years.
“The first time I talked to him I knew that he was very knowledgeable about his career and what he does as a captain,” said Jennifer Christensen Granite Technical Institute (GTI) Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) teacher who works with Wood.
Wood not only works at the fire station as captain but he also helps students at the GTI gain more insight from a firefighter point of view.
Jennifer Christensen said, “Chris has helped with my EMT classes in setting up their ride alongs and working with them so they know what is expected. Chris stands out as a captain because he works well with everyone and cares about the people he works with.”
Estares went on to say, “Our captain is just like anyone, he has strengths and weaknesses just like you and I. The strengths I see in Captain Wood are his ability to communicate with anyone in any situation professionally. “
Wood also has good common sense. He leads by example and would never ask anyone to do something he wouldn’t do himself.
Jared Christensen said, “Chris is one who always has our back and our best interest in mind.”
“Chris is one who I know takes care of the people that he works with. I know that if anything were to happen to any of them that they would be okay and Chris would do everything in his power to make sure that they were safe,” said Jennifer Christensen.
One of the jobs of a fire captain is to make sure they have training with their crew. Wood schedules trainings for his crew on every shift they have.
“We train so that we make safe, smart, stressful decisions while performing a high risk job,” said Estares.
Some of the things they do every day to make sure they and everyone around them are safe are always checking the trucks and the gear.
One situation that happened to the crew where they could have died was when they were in a house doing a search for people.
“It got to the point where it was super smoky so much so you couldn’t even see your hand in front of your face,” said Jared Christensen.
They were searching and Jared Christensen was the second guy on the hose line. The guy in front was holding the nozzle and the third guy was pushing hose to them.
“We were going down the hallway and right as I leaned forward to sound the floor with an ax, me and the guy in front fell through the floor where the whole basement was on fire,“ said Jared Christensen
They then started screaming to the third guy on the hose line who luckily was a big dude so he was able to pull them up back through the hole in the floor. By that point the two of them were completely disoriented and followed the hose line out.
“We didn’t even know we were outside yet when we were actually on the driveway,” said Jared Christensen
“Wood has a very close relationship with his crew members and has a very strong devotion to his career choice. He has backed them up and supported them on thousands of calls,” said Jennifer Christensen.