By Eric Fick as told to Brandon Pedersen, WorkStory Ambassador
Hello, my name is Eric Fick and I am from a little farm town called Bradford, Ontario and this is the story about how I got to where I am today.
During the early stages of my life, my only wish in the world was to become a teacher. When you ask a 10 or 11 year old, “what would you like to be when you grow up?”, the response is usually: a hockey player, ballerina, astronaut, etc., but not me. As I grew older and matured into a high school student my dream was still there. Throughout grade nine and ten I was determined, and applied myself to my studies, achieving honours in academic courses. It came to my attention, though, that it wasn't going to be easy going through university and teachers college. As my social life got the best of me for the last two years of high school, I had dropped from honours in academic courses to barely getting by in applied courses. Unfortunately, my lack of self-discipline resulted in me avoiding the university application process. I decided to take an alternative path and applied to Fanshawe College for electrical engineering. I have always been rather handy, so I figured I’d put that to good use. Luckily I was accepted, but did not last very long. I had once again let my social life take over.
After thousands of dollars were basically thrown down the drain, I decided to smarten up and take a more practical electrical course to become an electrician. I had finally been able to return to my former self and completed that course, but something was still missing. I was not happy with the career path that I had chosen. At this point in time I did not know what I was going to do with my life.
Then one day it came to me.
I always had an interest in the firefighting profession, but people had always told me it was too difficult to get into, especially in an era when fire departments are hiring more women and minorities. I had soon learned that, yes it is extremely competitive, but it is strictly the best man or women for the job that gets hired. This increased my desire – I’ve always loved a good competition.
I decided to apply to the Pre-Service Firefighting program at Seneca College. From day one I knew it was what I wanted to pursue for as long as my body would allow me to. I worked for one year straight harder than I ever had in the past. I am happy to say that I graduated with honours and a GPA of 3.8. I had never achieved such good marks and feedback from my teachers before. It was extremely rewarding and helped me realise that this is truly what I was born to do.
It is commonly known that it can take years and a lot of money and volunteer hours to just get involved in the hiring process for any given fire department. The lengthy process includes a written test (with components such as reading compression, memory skills, math skills, and mechanical aptitude), a physical test (including eye sight, hearing, claustrophobia test, acrophobia test, strenuous endurance and strength test, swim test) on top of the entire interview process. Right from the moment I knew I wanted to be a firefighter I started practicing all on these skills.
I stayed focused and when an opportunity to become a volunteer firefighter arouse in the town of Bradford I obviously jumped on it. Not even half way through my Pre-Service Firefighter course, I had been hired on the Bradford Fire Department as a paid part time employee.
As of January 27th 2015, I have responded to 47 emergency calls and counting. The job of a Firefighter is well respected and I love everything it has to offer. To me, there is no better pleasure in the world then to rush to the fire hall, jump on the fire apparatus, and head over to make the worst day of someone’s life better. It has been a rollercoaster ride to get to where I am today, but it has all been worth it and it is only looking up from here.