FAIRFIELD — Before becoming a reserve firefighter, Nick Rubin said, he would admire nice cars in front of houses he drove past.
Now, when Fairfield native Rubin passes by such a house, he assesses the home’s construction, possible fire danger and how best firefighters could quickly respond if there was a fire or medical emergency there. The car would be considered nice, too.
“It is awesome,” Rubin said of getting his hands-on training to become a full-time firefighter in the community where he grew up. “You know the streets, you know the schools, it makes it easier overall to do your job.”
Once Rubin gets a year of working as a paramedic for Medic Ambulance – one of the requirements to become a full-time firefighter – under his belt, he hopes to start applying to fire departments. His greatest wish is to be taken on by the Fairfield Fire Department.
Earlier this month, Rubin was named the department Reserve Firefighter of the Year by his peers. He joins Battalion Chief John Sturdee, who was named Officer of the Year, and Capt. Phil Bailey, who was named Firefighter of the Year.
The three will be honored in February at a department ceremony and join honorees from Solano County’s other fire departments and fire protection districts at a March ceremony sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of Solano County.
Rubin was going for a business major in college when he decided a life in the business world was not for him. His father helped point him toward starting a firefighting career.
“Economics was just so dry,” Rubin said.
He signed up as a reserve firefighter in 2009 after earlier experience in the department’s Explorer program helped him discover he enjoyed the camaraderie of the other firefighters. He also enjoyed working within the community.
“I just love being able to help people,” he said.
Since then, he has put in at least three 24-hour shifts a month at Station 35 in Cordelia and taken training courses in the skills needed to become a firefighter/paramedic.
For the past 18 months, he worked at Medic Ambulance, first as an emergency medical technician and then as a full-time paramedic.
“It has just reinforced what I want to do,” Rubin said of his time with Medic.
Because he is often first on the scene, Rubin said his experience as a paramedic has made him more knowledgable and confident in his abilities.
The toughest part of his career as a reserve firefighter is getting the experience and skill needed to beat out a legion of others trying to get hired by fire departments.
“It is so competitive and it is very tough,” he said of applicants who number in the hundreds for a small number of openings. “The reserve program here is helping me. It is invaluable.”
Rubin said the best part of his reserve work “is the knowledge and training you get here as well as the experience, the real hands-on training” that ranges from serving as fourth man on the engine on calls to assisting the lead paramedic in medical emergencies.
Rubin said it’s “a huge honor” to be named Reserve Firefighter of the Year.
“I was taken by surprise to be recognized by the people I hope to work for,” Rubin said.
Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.