By Dan Brooks, Patchogue Fire Department
I started in the fire service as a Junior firefighter/Explorer with the Cortlandville Fire Department. I joined because a few of my friends joined and it was a new program.
Eventually, we all became members of the Cortlandville FD when we reached the age to join. I moved away and lived in a few different places over the next 25 years and joined fire departments if I could, but didn’t stay in any one place long enough to establish myself. Nine years ago, I moved to Patchogue on Long Island and just this summer joined the Patchogue Fire Department after a friend urged me to get back into the fire service after being away now that I am settled.
I credit the Junior Firefighter/Explorer program that I joined for providing me the passion for the fire service. If it had not been for the Junior program, I may not have developed a passion for the fire service and most likely would have not re-joined after a few years away. The foundation of the program not only gave me the knowledge of the fire service at an early age, but it taught me life lessons that are only now becoming evident.
Many people say that they like helping their communities and giving back is rewarding. I think we can all agree on that and that’s what keeps us together as a unique niche of people. But, it’s the life lessons that taught me way beyond those first meetings as a teenager that shaped me into the adult I am today.