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Heroes Wanted! Are You Ready?

OAKHURST–Are You Up for the Challenge? Cal Fire wants YOU!

No doubt 2020 and 2021 have been challenging years in nearly all respects. Fires, winds, floods, pandemics. And there’s little doubt we’ll be in for more in the future.

Do you have what it takes to become a Paid-Call Firefighter (PCF) with Cal Fire in Madera County?

Matthew Watson, Assistant Chief of the Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit, cites an immediate need for enough hires to adequately support the emergency needs within Madera County and specifically within the foothill communities.

What’s in it for you, beyond the satisfaction of serving your family and community?

  • Training through the Madera County Fire Basic Skills Academy. Roughly 280 hours in length, the training includes required emergency medical training as well as the required state training. With the training obtained by Madera County Fire, Paid Call Firefighters may have the opportunity to assist with major incidents throughout California. Training and equipment are at no cost to the trainee
  • Learning a skillset that potentially could transition into full-time positions. Most Madera County Chief Officers started as PCF’s, as have many other career firefighters in various ranks.
  • Many Paid Call Firefighters that go through our PCF program transition into full-time positions. Most of our Chief officers in Madera all started as PCFs as many of our other career firefighter in various ranks.
  • Learn Public Safety First Aid, which has the same skillset as an Emergency Medical Technician, although the classroom hours are less.

What qualifications must you meet? It won’t be easy, but it will be worth your commitment.

  • All candidates must live within Madera County.
  • For a candidate to be accepted into the PCF program, they must be at least 18 years of age, with a valid CA driver’s license, alongside a high school diploma or a GED. They must obtain approval by Madera County Risk Management Department, including a background check.
  • Additionally, because the expectations of the job are physically demanding, it benefits the candidates to be physically fit.
  • All applicants must pass a physical agility test.

When asked what characteristics he most values in PCF recruits, he listed the following traits Reliability, teachability, strong work-ethic, passion for the job and a desire to serve the community.

The time involved as a PCF depends in part on the applicant’s availability as well as when incidents occur and where. Basically it comes down to each candidate’s availability and willingness to respond within the community. Sometimes, there are multiple calls per day, and some PCFs can go multiple days without getting called up.

Matthew Watson becomes Assistant Fire Chief for Madera County and City Fire Departments March 1, 2018 (From Sierra News Online files)

In addition, If Paid Call Firefighters are interested and willing, they also can respond to major incidents that can be anywhere from fourteen to twenty-one days straight. If there is a need to return home during an extended assignment, efforts will be made to make that happen.

Historically, Paid Call Firefighters have helped with fire prevention weeks at local schools and may assist on fire extinguisher trainings as needed throughout the community. CAL FIRE always looks for ways for PCF’s to integrate themselves into community events and to be a presence amongst their fellow community members.

Matt says, “The job is demanding, physically and mentally. There are extensive training hours while moving through the program, as we want our PCFs to be as prepared as possible to respond in confidence. In exchange for all the hard work, PCFs are rewarded with the benefit of serving their community, generating, and deepening relationships, and retaining information that will serve them well in the future.”

Are you up for the challenge?

To obtain more information or to apply, contact Cal Fire Assistant Chief Matthew Watson at matt.watson@fire.ca.gov or 559/675-7799.  Photos courtesy of Madera County Fire unless otherwise stated.



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Sierra News Online

Sierra News Online