There are a few things that Francisco Garcia — an engineer with the Reedley Fire Department — said he has learned during his 11 years working as a first responder.
“A lot of people go through life living in their own comfort zone, and what fire and first responders see is different,” he said. “We see a lot of walks of life, and how people live and it gives one a lot of respect and understanding. You don’t get to see those types of things if you’re not working in this career.”
Garcia is originally from Dinuba, but moved to Reedley in 2007. He began his career with the Reedley Fire Department soon after.
“My start date, actually running calls once we passed the academy, was Dec. 12, 2008,” he said. “It was a mixture of adrenaline, being scared, anxiety, fun, it was a mixture of all those things mainly because this was all new to me.”
Garcia’s initial plan was to pursue a fulltime career in fire, but he said his plans changed along the way.
“My path kind of veered off, and I just stayed satisfied with being a paid call firefighter, or what we call volunteers firefighters here in Reedley,” he said. “Yeah sometimes I think about it still. It’s different when you start a career and then you want to start another one.”
He now owns a business called Quality Auto Repair on 8th Street.
“I started my own business, this automotive repair facility in the beginning of 2017,” he said. “I do everything automotive, the repair side of it, that and the fire department.”
Although he loves both his careers equally, he said there’s just something about working in a fire station that he just can’t let go.
“It’s hard to start all over again. But, yes my heart is definitely in fire. Mainly because of a couple of different things,” he said. “The camaraderie we get with our friends, our brothers, you spend a lot of time with them.”
“Another one is helping the community knowing who lives in your community. Knowing who lives here and being a piece of helping people in this community.”
Garcia said he remembers one of his first calls. It changed his perspective on life and gave him a new appreciation for it.
Not even one month into working as a first responder with Reedley, Garcia described the call to respond to a shooting.
“At that time there were a lot of gang shootings, and it was something I had always heard of,” he said. “I had never seen that side of it. Once I went to my first shooting, it was more of a culture shock. This really does happen in my neighborhood; this really is crazy.”
He said the best advice he can give those wanting to pursue a career in the fire service is continuing their education.
“Main thing is schooling, start off young with schooling, get a fire science degree,” he said. “A lot of firefighting is not just showing up to a fire and putting out the fire, but also medical aids, medical field stuff. Mainly get [your] schooling while you’re young.”
Garcia said he still looks forward to continuing his work and service to the community of Reedley. He lives in Reedley with his wife and three kids.