Blowin’ Smoke with Stephen Ricci

This week’s Blowin’ Smoke is from one of our followers on The “Model City” Firefighter’s Facebook Fan page.

My name is Stephen Ricci, and I am a Firefighter III with the Gwinnett County Fire Department in Georgia. As a FFIII, I am certified to be a relief driver and acting officer if needed.

How many years have you served in the fire service?

I have been in the fire service for 10 1/2 years.

Why did you join the fire service?

I joined the fire service because it was always a dream of mine from the time I was a small child.

Is there any distinct way that you have tried to make a difference?

The way I try to make a difference is to give 110% every shift. I try to lead by example and show the younger guys how to be a successful firefighter and to take pride in what they do.

Have you accomplished any specific personal goals during your career?

I have accomplished many smaller goals so far in my career but I am still working on my biggest goal which is to reach the officer ranks.

What is the biggest change that you have witnessed since joining the fire service?

The biggest change I have seen since joining is a recent change. My Battalion and shift have been studying a lot on the subject of oxygen flow paths and how they affect the way fire reacts. We are still very aggressive and fight most fires from the interior but we are much more aware of what the fire is doing or is going to do by what actions we take. We still have a lot to learn but it has opened our eyes immensely.

What do you believe is the biggest challenge that the fire service faces today?

I believe the biggest challenge the fire department, ours at least, is the mind set of old school vs new school. We have a lot of younger guys taking a lot of classes that have shown us that the way we “have always done it” may not be the best way. We also have a lot of “older” guys that believe the old way is the only way. They display somewhat of a “if it isn’t broke…don’t fix it” mentality.

What is the best firehouse prank that you might have “allegedly” been involved in throughout your career?

The best prank I have been involved in is when myself and another guy put our friend’s motor scooter in the elevator and took it to the second floor of the station. We then hid it in the men’s room shower.

During your many years on the job, how were you able to push through the darkest of times?

As far as getting through the hard times, and there have been many, I have been able for the most part to rely on my crews for support. I have been very fortunate in my career to be on some great crews and we have always looked out for each other. There have also been times when I have just put whatever it was in the back of my head and just tried not to think of it.

If you could provide some of the younger generation of firefighters with a few “words of wisdom,” what would they be?

I would tell the younger guys to take pride in this profession, remember those who have come before them, some of who may have made the ultimate sacrifice. Do not come on this job and expect anything handed to you. No one cares who you are related to or what you think you know. Come in do as your told when your told and if your just here for the paycheck or because you think sirens and lights are cool…you need to go home. I want to be surrounded by people who want to have fun but also are serious when the tones drop. I see too many rookies coming on thinking they are owed something and using the department as a place to goof off. They do not take pride in what they do. Lastly, take pride in your uniform and the badge you wear. They are both a privilege to wear and not a right.

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