After 23 years of service and the several service awards including the Firefighter of the Year, Edmond A. Rodriguez feels “honored” to be promoted as the new Deputy Fire Chief of the Stockton Fire Department.
Rodriguez shared with the Bilingual Weekly some his experiences along his successful career.
BW: Tells how do you feel as you take on this new challenge in your career?
Rodriguez: I’m honored to be part of this department and that of the many qualified people that we have, the chief asked me to do the job.
BW: What are some of the thing that you are going to do now, compared to your previous position as a Battalion Chief?
Rodriguez: We have two Battalion Chief on duty everyday each to cover a half of the city so you are responsible for one half of the on-duty firefighting and emergency medical service forces that we have on duty.
Now I manage all of the Battalion chiefs across all three shifts, in addition I manage our division of training, our communications division, our rescue teams plus a significant amount of personnel issues, and investigations.
BW: This is certainty a hand full, how do you do it to keep everything under control?
Rodriguez: We split things but those are my principal duties and then Chief Calkins has the budget and fire prevention
Former Deputy Fire Chief, Lance Calkings, started at the Fire department the same day as Rodriguez and was present during this interview.
Rodriguez: Having that teamwork that Calkins and I do have makes it essential that this place is going to succeed
“We started together, and I just followed every spot that he has had,” said Rodriguez while laughing.
BW: Since he is taking over your position, what are some recommendations, advice that you can given him?
Calkins: He is been helping and learning about my job for the a couple years. He previously did Emergency Medical Service, he assisted the 911 center, so a lot of the stuff that he is supervising now he already done so he really understands everything.
Calkins: We complement each other; I help him he helps me.
Rodriguez: We still are firefighters, we still carry the same team work up here, and there is no that is your job, that is my job.
BW: how and when did you decided to become a fireman?
Since I was a little my father used to tease me, he would point at a fire and I would go crazy and asked him to follow it in the car,
Not too many people get to do their dream job but I was fortunate to be one of those.
Any remarkable stories that you can share with us?
In 1991 we had a fire in town on California Street, the people that morning did not evacuate the building and it ended up being a significant fire. Unfortunately we lost three civilians that day and we critically injured two firefighters, one who is about to retire because of those injuries.
That day we rescued 15 people before they jumped out of windows, it was one of those calls that you will always remember. One of my jobs was to take a hose line to the third floor; we were trapped up there because the roof and the air conditioner collapse.
Fortunately they rescued us and I was the last one out, but they tell me that when I came out that window there was fire all around me.
I did not know how bad the fire was until I was back on the street and looking up to it, as a new firefighter I recognized how important this job is but also how dangerous it is.
What are some of the Challenges that most fire departments face today?
Right know the challenge is the budget, trying to keep funding to allow us to safely do what we do.
It is because of the budget that numerous firefighters were layoff, what is your position on this issue?
Well I understand economy reality. The city face some tough decisions although we certainly don’t want to see anyone lose their job we recognize that we still have to move forward and try to provide the best service with the funding that we do receive.
I think we will have the support of the council as funding returns one of the first areas that will be refunded back to its prior level will be the fire department.
Knowing that the funding will come back to the department what is your message for the young men that want to be firefighters?
The requirements are very strict, you have to in good physical shape, and good character so stay away from gangs and keep your nose in the books.
Although behind a desk both Rodriguez and Calkins, they still are firefighters and they carry a pager with them at all times.
Rodriguez: we have a radio, pagers and cell phones, so when they see us running out the secretaries already know what is going on.
Calkins: Our cars are emergency response cars so every time that there is a fire we get notified, we are out the door and off to the fire.
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