My name is Troy Maness and I live in East Helena, Montana. I have been in the fire service for 24 years. I am currently serving as an Engineer with the Fort Harrison VA Fire Department (Paid/8 years), Asst. Chief/Training Officer with East Helena Vol. Fire Department (20 years), Lead Instructor with Helena College Fire-Rescue Program (10 years) and also an Instructor with MSU Fire Services Training School (2 years). Also severed as shipboard firefighter with U.S. Navy for 4 years.
How many years have you served in the fire service?
Why did you join the fire service?
I joined the fire service to continue the family tradition of serving our community as a second generation firefighter. I guess you could say “it’s in my blood”. I also have the opportunity to pass the tradition onto my sons, as my oldest is currently serving with me on the East Helena Vol. Fire Department.
Is there any distinct way that you have tried to make a difference?
The distinct way I have tried to make a difference in the fire service is through being an instructor and training officer. I have an opportunity to pass on the knowledge and skills that I have obtained through my fire service career in order to give other firefighters the “Tools in their toolbox”. The fire service is consistently changing, so we have to stay ahead of the curve with training and education.
I have accomplished many goals so far in my career as a firefighter. I served as the Fire Chief for East Helena Vol. Fire Department for 9 years, currently serving as Asst. Chief/Training Officer (9 years total). I have also set some other goals to accomplish in the near future which includes participating in the Seattle stair climb and Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge, being promoted to Captain with my career department and continuing to obtain as much knowledge as possible about our work environment.
What is the biggest change that you have witnessed since joining the fire service?
I have witnessed a lot of changes in the fire service over the years. The biggest changes would be the advances in our personal protective equipment, technology in our apparatus and many others over the years.
I think the biggest challenge the fire service faces is the safety culture. This is probably the hardest one to deal with as there are departments that do not understand that you can be aggressive and safe at the same time. This is where education and training is very important. I am a firm believer of being aggressive and safe at the same time; this is done by knowing your job inside and out, consistently learning about fire behavior, building construction, ventilation and extinguishment tactics, and firefighter safety and survival.
What is the best firehouse prank that you might have “allegedly” been involved in throughout your career?
The best firehouse prank I have been involved in would have to be sending probationary firefighters to find the “water hammer” on the apparatus. That is always a good one.
During your many years on the job, how were you able to push through the darkest of times?
I am able to push through the darkest of times due to the strong support system I have with my wife and family, brother and sister firefighters. We all deal with situations differently. It is very difficult at times, but you just have to work through it and continue on doing the job. There is not a day that goes by that I do not reflect on those dark events.
If you could provide some of the younger generation of firefighters with a few “words of wisdom,” what would they be?
My “words of wisdom” to the younger generation of firefighters coming up is to never stop learning. The day you stop learning is the day you should probably hang up your helmet and find something else to do with your life. Get with the older firefighters and officers, have them be your mentors, you will learn a lot about what they have seen and done over their years in the fire service. Earn your spot in the brother and sisterhood.
We would like to thank Chief Maness for taking the time to be featured in a Blowin’ Smoke here on The “Model City” Firefighter. If you or someone you know would like to be featured in an upcoming Blowin’ Smoke article, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.