FAIRFIELD — If there is one indication that Fairfield Fire Department Battalion Chief John Sturdee made the right career choice, it’s that one of his sons, Christian Sturdee, is following in his footsteps to become a firefighter.
“He is currently working for Medic Ambulance,” said a proud John Sturdee, who worked at Medic before he was hired by the Fairfield department.
Sturdee was chosen earlier this month as the department’s Officer of the Year by his peers as an example of hard work, dedication and respect. He joins Fire Capt. Phil Bailey, who was named Firefighter of the Year, and Nick Rubin, who was named Reserve 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 hosted by the Rotary Clubs of Solano County.
Sturdee, who was born and raised in Fairfield, always wanted to be a firefighter and became a volunteer with the Fairfield department in 1989 when he was still in high school.
His job then entailed supporting the department’s paid staff, which involved covering the fire stations during calls and sometimes being sent to fire or accident scenes. After three years as a volunteer, Sturdee went to work for Medic Ambulance in 1993, where he rose to become a supervisor in 1996.
Sturdee fired off applications to fire departments all over the region, but struck gold when he got the opportunity to join the Fairfield department as a paramedic/firefighter in 1996.
“I was pretty excited about it,” said Sturdee, who got the news while he was on call for Medic in San Francisco.
Starting his firefighting career in his hometown was definitely a good turn for him, Sturdee said: It gave him a good starting knowledge of the community.
“There were a few times that I have responded on calls to people I knew,” Sturdee said.
Some of his biggest challenges are budget-related issues, helping the department work out how to give Fairfield the best fire and emergency medical coverage possible with the resources that are available.
Then there are the challenging calls, such as tackling the multiple-structure fire that broke out on Marigold Drive last August or the spectacular Macro Plastics fire in August 2011 that brought in firefighters from 15 departments.
“The best part (of my job) is that you never know what you will be doing,” Sturdee said, “and that the people I work with are some of the best in the business.”
Sturdee now works as the department’s training battalion chief, responsible for organizing all of the department’s training.
“Training is the most important thing for a fire department,” Sturdee said. “If we are not prepared, we could be in real trouble.”
Sturdee and his wife Michelle have four children: Damon, 22; Christian, 21; Taylyn, 20; and Makalea, 14.
Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.