jason a cotting

Why I want to be a firefighter

My desire to enter a career in emergency response began when I was a Philmont Ranger. Rangers are backpacking guides with the Boy Scouts of America at Philmont Scout Ranch in northern New Mexico. Rangers are the best that Scouting has to offer. One of a Ranger's more exciting job duties is participating in search and rescue missions. Perhaps it was just the Scout moto of "Do a good turn daily" that had been pounded into the heads of Rangers during all their years in scouting, but SaR missions were something we all wanted to participate in.

What made SaR missions so appealing to me was that I knew there was someone out there with a need, and I was one of only a handful of people that could fill that need. Rangers were the go-to people, and there was no pawning it off on anyone else. We knew going into the missions that they were going to be tough work, and the only reward we would get was our own personal satisfaction. Going out with a team was a great experience. You knew that you were going out there with people you could count on, people who were highly motivated, and people who had the same thing in mind that you did, to help someone out. It is a great feeling knowing that you have used your energies to make a positive impact on someone's life.

What sets me apart from most people is my level of integrity and character. I place a very high priority on trust and building relationships with people. One of the greatest gifts that can be given is the gift of your time to someone else to build a relationship. Being a firefighter builds relationships not only with your peers, but also with the community as they depend on you to be there for them when no one else can.

Most of my life I believed that being a firefighter would be an incredible way to experience life, but I never thought to pursue it as a career. My time in AmeriCorps* showed me that the time I was the happiest with my job was when I was putting in long hours and hard work to make a positive impact on people's lives. Eventually I realized that all of the best parts of the jobs I had worked in could be found in a career with firefighting. I have wanted to be a firefighter for several years, but it never occurred to me that it was a career option until I started putting together the things I wanted out of a career.

I don't want to go through life punching the clock at some ordinary 9-5 job slaving away just making a paycheck. That is not living. Living is doing something with your life where you push your boundaries every day and doing things that will benefit more than just you. This is why I want to be a firefighter. Because I want to make my life count for something so that when I am a retiree, I can know that I didn't throw away all of my previous time doing nothing.