(CBS Charlotte) — The bell sounds at 2:30 a.m. and the Firefighters who work at Station 39 jump out of bed, throw on their gear within 60 seconds and jump on the Firetruck — en-route to their next call. Charlotte Firefighters work 24 hour shifts, and it’s not uncommon for them to respond to several calls in the middle of the night.
Each time a Firefighter puts on his gear, he puts it all on the line for someone he has never met before. Whether that means risking his life to save someone who is trapped in a burning house or building, or rendering first aid during a medical call, Firefighters are ready to respond and assist where needed — every time that bell sounds.
But, what does it mean to be a Firefighter? Every Firefighter takes a pledge to serve and assist their community. They are required to maintain good health and physical fitness, and to continue to train and educate themselves on proper fire fighting techniques, etc. Most of all, Firefighters have to be mentally prepared to do their job — no matter what kind of call that they are dispatched to.
Firefighters across the nation are recognized as heroes, and Charlotte Firefighters are no exception. It takes tremendous effort and dedication to become a Firefighter in Charlotte. Less than 2 percent of applicants go on to become Firefighters in our city.
We recently had a chance to visit Station 39 near the Arboretum. Here is our interview with Jeff Nixon:
Q, How long have you been a Firefighter?
A. I have been a Firefighter for 10 years now. Originally, I was a Police Officer and later spent some time as a teacher before becoming a Firefighter. I have worked at Stations 14, 25, and have been at Station 39 for the last five years.
Q. What aspects do you love about your job?
A. Being a Firefighter is never dull or boring. When we arrive at the station, we know that each shift will bring about new challenges and new calls.
Q. How many calls do you average per day?
A. It definitely varies each day, per station. On any given day, Station 39 can be dispatched to anywhere between four and 10 calls.
Q. On average, how many calls do you get in the middle of the night?
A. Nearly every shift, the bell goes off around 12:30 a.m. and 2:30 a.m.
Q. Are there times when your job is difficult or overwhelming?
A. There are some calls that are more difficult to process and accept than others, but the four of us on the truck are a support system for each other.
Q. What do you think it takes to be a Firefighter?
A. Integrity, drive, and a willingness and desire to make a difference.
Q. What’s the worst call you ever went on?
A. There are two that stick out in my mind. Right after my second son was born, we received a med call for a mother who looked a lot like my wife at the time, and the baby was around the same age as my son. The woman had had a heart attack, and obviously, due to the similarities surrounding my family, it definitely shook me up afterwards. The second worst call was when a drug dealer hit me with his car in Uptown. After the accident, I had numerous injuries and missed about a month of work.
Q. What is one thing about Firefighters that most people don’t know?
A. It takes a certain kind of person to be a Firefighter. We’re not like everyone else — we’re wired differently.
-Nichole Jaworski, CBS Charlotte
A special thank you to the C Shift at Station 39 for letting us visit: Captain Hasty, John Carriker, Paul King, and Jeff Nixon.