Matthew LaMendola, a firefighter for Madison Fire Rescue went to Orleans, Calif. to help with a wildfire. He was gone from Aug. 14 to Aug. 30. The first week he was there he worked a small fire that was on top of a mountain that was in a controlled state. By the second week, that fire was out and he worked as initial attack for Orleans. This means that any calls that came in related to a wildfire, he would answer along with the other firefighters. He answered three fires during that time.
LaMendola said that fighting wildfires is something he always wanted to do so he got his red card, which enables him to go out West and fight fires. To qualify for his red card, he had to walk three miles in 45 minutes with 45 pounds of gear. Once he got the red card, he had to put his name on a list every week to show that he was available to go out West and help.
When his name was chosen, he had 24 hours to be at his destination but did not know where he was going until he arrived at the airport in Tampa. He also had to get his shifts covered at Madison Fire Rescue.
He plans on helping again but would like to do it as a paramedic. He already has the qualification as a paramedic.
“I think everyone (firefighters) should try it at least once because it gives them an appreciation for their jobs in Florida,” said LaMendola. “The work those guys are doing out there is 10 times