Q&A w/ Fire Chief Brian Thompson

q and a

Thanks to everyone who sent in questions through Facebook, email, and even by phone this week!  Brian was able to spend some time today answering them.

Question: What’s your favorite part of your job?  Least favorite part? 

Brian:  My favorite part of the job is the rewarding aspect of saving someone’s life or saving their property.  Even when we have a residence with heavy fire and we save a portion of their property such as family heirlooms or photographs it is rewarding because there is always something very important to them inside their home.  My least favorite part of the job would have to be all of the administrative work that comes with the title.

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Question: When did you know you wanted to be a firefighter? 

Brian:  I joined the United States Air Force in 1989 and thought I wanted to be an air traffic controller but the Air Force decided I should be a Firefighter.  The Air Force stationed me at Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth Texas and I moved into a house in White Settlement where I began to volunteer in May of 1990.  The municipal Fire Department here gave me so much more of a different experience compared to how the Air Force Fire Department operates and I fell in love with the profession.

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Question:  What’s something you wish everyone knew about fire safety that they don’t seem to know?

Brian:  What we see so commonly is that people frequently overload electrical outlets and power strips which is a large cause of fires.  Also, changing the 9 volt batteries in smoke detectors twice a year is very important as it can give warning for our families to get out safely and save lives!

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Question:  What kind of training do you guys do? 

Brian:  We are required a certain amount of training by the State based on different certification levels.  What I like to see most is hands on training that is applicable to what we do and not too much time sitting in the classroom.  So monthly we offer 8 hours of training, 6 hours of firefighting related training and 2 hours of medical related training.   Also, once a year we have a requirement for live fire training where the guys fight fire in a controlled environment, this usually happens at Tarrant County College Fire Training Center.

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Question:  What’s the most dangerous experience you’ve ever had fighting a fire? 

Brian:  Our job is dangerous anytime we fight fire and I could tell many stories of fighting house fires or commercial building fires.  But on January 28th, 2008 we responded mutual aid to Benbrook for a large grass fire, we were working along the highway on 377 south of Benbrook, I was a Captain at the time and our Fire Marshal Melvin Wilson was a Firefighter.  We were standing near the rear of our fire engine when a pickup truck going approximately 60 miles an hour drove into heavy smoke conditions and ran into the rear of our fire engine.    Myself and Melvin Wilson had just stepped a few feet away from where the pickup hit our engine, a few seconds earlier and it would have been a different outcome.  My life was almost taken that day and all I could think about was my son and my daughter and how much I loved them.

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Question:  Does it get boring on a day when there aren’t many calls coming in? 

Brian:  During the day time when the guys start their shifts, they have truck checks, tools and equipment checks and personal protective clothing and equipment to check daily.  They are also required a certain amount of physical fitness time daily.  Most days they will add some type of shift based training to stay sharp on their skills.  Then at different times of the year we add in testing fire hydrants and other fire prevention activities.  They generally work 24 hour shifts so they do get some down time as well due to the expectation that an emergency call could require them to tax their bodies for several hours without much rehab time.   As for me, when call volume is low, I generally have administrative work to do or meetings to attend.  So, in my opinion, no it’s not boring.  I love this job!