On the job: Clovis Fire Department

Firefighter Dustin Oliver demonstrates the correct way to use the pole. The fire station on Mitchell Sreet. (Staff photo: Tony Bullocks)

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

The average Clovis firefighter is 31 years old, male, works 24-hour shifts, makes $25,500 a year and has been on the job between two and 16 years. “Ladder 49” is among their favorite movies and most prefer to eat meat and
potatoes.

Here’s a further look at Clovis Fire Department based on a CNJ survey:
• Employees: 77, including support staff
1 Chief
3 Battalion chiefs
3 Captains
15 Lieutenants
14 Drivers/operators
25 Firefighters
13 Probationary firefighters

• Average age of firefighters: 31
Oldest: 48
Youngest: 21

• By gender
Male: 69
Female: 8

• Average pay: $12.27 per hour or $25,500 per year

• Average time on the job: Firefighters, 2 years; drivers/operators, 9 years; lieutenants: 16

• Chain of command:
Fire Chief: Administers all operations of the Fire Department
Battalion Chiefs: Administer and supervise all shift activities
Lieutenants: Supervise station personnel and assist with coordinating training, inspections and more.
Driver/operators: Drive and operate fire apparatus.
Firefighters: Protect life and property.
Probationary firefighters: Tasked with learning the skills of the firefighters.

• Length of a normal shift: 24 hours. Members rotate shifts at 7 a.m. 365 days a year.

• Firefighters on duty during a shift period: 23. A minimum of 18 people are on staff 24 hours a day.

• Vehicles: 40, 10 fire rucks, 9 ambulances, 1 rescue unit, 14 pickups and cars, 6 trailers

• Top three types of calls responded to:
Ambulance — 2005 the fire department responded to 4,817 ambulance calls
Fire — 2005 responded to 727 fire calls
Assistance and education— ambulance standby at events, smoke detector installation, education at schools and for groups.

Firefighter profiles

Name: Mike Jouett
Station No. 2, 615 Llano Estacado Boulevard
Title/rank:
Lieutenant, Emergency Medical Technician IV
Time on job: 25 years

Jouett was born and raised in Clovis and graduated from Clovis High School in 1974.

When did you realize you wanted to be a firefighter?
After my rookie year at the fire department in 1982

If you weren’t a firefighter, what would you be?
Not a clue … maybe a teacher

What is your favorite fire-related movie or TV show, Hollywood firefighter?
“Ladder 49”

What do you do to pass the time between calls?
Fill out paperwork, train rookies and make to-do lists.

What is the funniest call you have ever been on?
I got a cat out of a chimney.

What do you have in your pockets right now?
Keys, wallet, comb, pens, knife, change, scissors and my hospital ID

What are your hobbies?
Sweepstakes and coin collecting

Favorite candy?
Haystack from Leslie/Gibbs Candy Company

Favorite meal?
Meat and potatoes

Name: Joel Gershon
Station No. 3, 2200 Jefferson Street
Title/rank:
Driver/Operator
Time on job: Three years, 10 months

Gershon moved to Clovis from upstate New York his senior year of high school. He graduated from Clovis High School and went to Eastern New Mexico University. His family still lives in New York and Boston with the exception of his father, who lives in Clovis.

When did you realize you wanted to be a firefighter?
I’m a third-generation firefighter, so I pretty much always wanted to do this.

If you weren’t a firefighter, what would you be?
I would have probably joined a branch of the military.

Have any of the habits or training you have gained as a firefighter carried over into your personal life?
The structure and discipline have carried over into my home life with my three kids. I’m not as demanding on them but they have certain direction, I hope.

What is your favorite fire-related movie or TV show, Hollywood firefighter?
“Ladder 49” is my new favorite one, although I still love “Backdraft” — and although I don’t think Denis Leary would make a good firefighter in real life, he plays a funny one on “Rescue Me.”

What do you do to pass the time between calls?
For the past year and a half all I have done is study for my paramedic license. Other than that; hang out with the guys.

Tell about a memorable call you have been on:
The China Star fire

What is the funniest call you have ever been on?
A garage fire … my partner and I were moving stuff around in the garage to get to the fire. His tool punctured a can of spray-on window snow and it went all over him — he ran out yelling.

What do you have in your pockets right now?
Pens scissors, pocket knife, critical care guide, hospital ID and a patient assessment booklet.

What are your hobbies?
Whatever my kids’ hobbies are.

Favorite candy?
Three Musketeers

Favorite meal?
Hot dogs and sauerkraut with roasted onions.

Name: Brien McClary
Station No. 4, 1308 Norris Street
Title/rank:
Lieutenant
Time on job: 15 years with the Clovis Fire Department

McClary is a 34-year resident of Portales. He has been married for 16 years and has two daughters, Kamryn, 7, and Megan, 12. He said being a firefighter has given him an increased awareness for safety and the job is a constant reminder that life is too short.

When did you realize you wanted to be a firefighter?
I found the career fascinating after talking with friends in the service.

If you weren’t a firefighter, what would you be?
I thought it would be great to be a pilot in the Air Force.

What is your favorite fire-related movie or TV show, Hollywood firefighter?
“Ladder 49.”

What do you do to pass the time between calls?
Training, maintaining equipment and facilities. When we get a chance to relax, I like to watch TV.

Tell about a memorable call you have been on:
The laundry fire on Main Street. It was the largest fire I have been involved with…so far.

What is the funniest call you have ever been on?
Once a female patient asked me on the way to the hospital if I had ever heard that you should always wear clean underwear just in case you get in an accident. I smiled and replied,Yes. Her concern wasn’t dirty underwear but the fact she wasn’t wearing any at all, she explained.

What do you have in your pockets right now?
My wallet, keys, a few coins and medical scissors.

What are your hobbies?
Collecting and restoring old muscle cars.

Favorite candy?
Butterfinger or Baby Ruth

Favorite meal?
Mexican food.

Name: Reed Wheeler
Station No. 1, Mitchell Street
Title/rank:
Firefighter, EMT Intermediate
Time on job/length of experience: Three years
Raised in Capitan, Wheeler has a wife, three children and a grandson. Before becoming a firefighter, he spent more than three years in welding school, and said he would probably be a welder by trade if not with the fire department.

When did you realize you wanted to be a firefighter?
When I was a little boy.

Have any of the habits or training you have gained as a firefighter carried over into your personal life?
I am more careful in what I do and I do get dressed faster and eat faster.

What is your favorite fire-related movie or TV show, Hollywood firefighter?
“Ladder 49” and “Rescue Me”

What do you do to pass the time between calls?
Study for driver/operator and train.

Tell about a memorable call you have been on:
Going to a structure fire and having a live patient pulled out by members of my crew.

What is the funniest call you have ever been on?
Being called to a residence for a subject not breathing, and pulling up and having your patient answer the door and wonder what you are doing there.

What are your hobbies?
Welding, hunting, fishing and riding horses.

Name: Dale Hand
Station No. 2, 615 Llano Estecado Boulevard
Title/rank:
Driver/operator Paramedic
Time on job/length of experience: 18 years
Born in Clovis, Hand graduated from Melrose High School in 1986. His wife is Aloha Hand and he has three children: Laci, Lane and HayLee.

When did you realize you wanted to be a firefighter?
Out of high school my father inspired me by supporting the career of firefighting and EMS.
If you weren’t a firefighter, what would you be?
A full-time rancher.

Have any of the habits or training you have gained as a firefighter carried into your personal life?
I can get dressed quick but I also eat fast. Sometimes the EMS training comes in handy at home.

What is your favorite fire-related movie or TV show, Hollywood firefighter?
Back in the 70s the show “Emergency.” That was cool.

What do you do to pass the time between calls?
Train, do reports on fire and EMS, rest, exercise and eat.

Tell about a memorable call you have been on:
After CFD got the first defibrillators, the crew I was with had the first cardiac save in Clovis in the field. That was awesome to be a part of.

What are your hobbies?
Rodeoing and racing dirt bikes with my family.

Name: John Bradley
Station No. 1, Mitchell Street
Title/rank:
Firefighter/EMT Intermediate
Bradley was born and raised in Clovis and went to Clovis High School. He said he has a 3-year-old daughter and wife.

When did you realize you wanted to be a firefighter?
My father is a retired Clovis firefighter, so my brother and I both grew up around it and always wanted to be firefighters.

Have any of the habits or training you have gained as a firefighter carried into your personal life?
I eat faster than most people.

Favorite fire-related movie, TV show or Hollywood firefighter?
Probably “Rescue Me” or “Third Watch.”

What do you do to pass the time between calls?
Work on and service fire trucks. We also clean the
station and our equipment.

Tell about a memorable call you have been on:
My first fire. I got to be first in and made entry to the structure.

What is the funniest call you have ever been on?
There was a cat on top of a light pole. We had to use a snorkel to get it down.

What do you have in your pockets right now?
Stethoscope and pen.

What are your hobbies?
Going to the lake, and working on cars.

Favorite candy?
Snickers

Favorite meal?
Steak and potatoes