Albert Rodriguez, a captain with the Reedley Fire Department, said his career in fire began with a loud knock at his family’s front door in the middle of the night.
“There was a fire on the school grounds,” said Rodriguez during an interview on the afternoon of April 18. “The fire chief came over our house. He [the fire chief] needed my dad’s keys because my dad was a custodian, and they needed to get into the school.”
Albert and his twin brother, Martin — or “Marty” as he’s known to friends — both decided to accompany their dad to the school.
“So we woke up, and went with our dad and got to see the fire,” Albert said. “We thought that was pretty cool.”
Rodriguez said it was the knock from the fire chief back in 1994 that ignited his interest in the fire service, and nearly 25 years later, he still feels the same excitement when heading to a call.
Initially, he began his career with Orange Cove Fire; joining the department several months after his brother.
“I decided to wait for a year, and after seeing what they did I ended up doing the same thing,” Albert said. “And I ended up going further than my brother because I went to the fire academy back in 2000.”
Rodriguez attended Fresno City College, where he earned an associate’s degree in fire science.
After working with Orange Cove Fire, Rodriguez then moved to volunteer with the Reedley Fire Department. It was that decision he said which helped expand his career even further.
Rodriguez began working as an EMT with Reedley’s local ambulance provider, Sequoia Safety Council. He helped to train newly-hired EMT’s as a proctor, and also drove the ambulance.
“I began working at Sequoia Safety Council, and have been with Sequoia for 19 years,” he said. “Being raised in this area, especially Orange Cove, it’s good we get to see and help people that we know.”
Martin Rodriguez also volunteers with the Reedley Fire Department, however, he pursued a career in nursing.
“We have some differences but not many,” Albert said with a laugh. “We definitely talk about fire a lot.”
Albert now works as a full-time firefighter with the Selma Fire Department and like Martin, also volunteers his time to the Reedley Fire Department.
He also has continued to work part time with Sequoia Safety Council.
“I always loved firefighting, now I’m doing it full time,” Albert said. “It was always a dream of mine.”
Along with his busy work life, Albert said he enjoys spending time with his daughters and going to the gym.
“Fitness is something that I really enjoy,” he said. “I go to the gym because I want people to count on me, if that time comes, it’s something we think about.”
“Looking around in the fire department,” he continued. “I think if I get in trouble, who will come and help me?”
His favorite part about the career? Helping a community he grew up in, and the coworkers he’s met along the way.
“The good thing about Reedley Fire is that there are so many people who work here with different backgrounds,” he said. “We have mechanics, we have sales people, with all these different trades they do and that works out for all of us. And we become friends, they’re my circle. My coworkers become my circle of trust, they are people I know and see every day.”