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‘It Gives Me a Sense of Purpose’

Having already served her country, she decided it was time to serve her community.

The Story of Rachael Aho

For Rachael Aho, it just made sense. Having already served her country, she decided it was time to serve her community.

“I’ve always enjoyed public service whether it was joining the military, serving my country, or the fire department, serving my community,” Rachael says. “I do those things because I really, truly enjoy doing that.”

She joined the military right out of high school and served five years before becoming a dental assistant. Eventually, she returned to school to become a personal trainer, a job that introduced her to the fire service. Rachael was instructing a fire department and a recruitment class at a training academy.

“The more I worked with them, the more I realized I was still missing some part I left in the military: that family cohesion, that service to my community,” she says.

A skydiving enthusiast in her spare time, she was attracted to the adrenaline aspect of the job – thinking fast and on her feet. Rachael jumped into training shortly after joining the Fairport Fire Department.

After taking Firefighter 1, she felt more than prepared to do interior firefighting. Rachael admits both the initial and ongoing training take time, but it’s more than worth the commitment.

“I do it the same way I make time for anything else that’s important in my life,” she says. “If it’s something you want to do, you find the time.”

Rachael’s volunteer work has improved her professional endeavors as she’s adapted workouts to include firefighting-specific movements. Physical fitness is key for interior firefighters who carry equipment like air packs into environments that often call for unusual maneuvers. It’s a great way to stay in shape, Rachael says, though there are plenty of other benefits, like the camaraderie and the pride.

“It gives me a sense of purpose,” she says. “As much as I can be there for everyone else in the community, it does a lot to help me.”

Hear Rachael’s story and those of others who find time to volunteer

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