Eau Claire Fire and Rescue is no ordinary job

By Kassy Wolfe

On a house call for a burning building, Kyle Frederickson and his fire rescue team had a tough task in front of them.  A few firemen went into the house to give it the all clear everyone was out and safe.  Little did they know that a flash over was about to take place.  This is where everything in the room ignites all at once, and there are only seconds to get out before it is too late.

“They don’t teach you how to stay calm, but you go back to your training and what you’ve learned in school,” said Eau Claire fire fighter Kyle Frederickson.  “And you look at something like that, that to a lot of people is scary, but you’ve been trained to stay calm.”

Kyle Frederickson works for the Eau Claire Fire Rescue as a full-time paramedic and firefighter.  He faces a wide variety of calls ranging from house fires to medical emergencies.

Kyle Frederickson stands on top of Firetruck #5 for the City of Eau Claire. ©Kassy Wolfe 2019

 

Frederickson and other firemen at the fire station have duties including, fire prevention, emergency medical service, hazardous material response, search and rescue, and disaster management.  While the work is lifesaving, it can take a personal toll on Fire and Rescue workers.

Hannah Jahnke, Frederickson’s significant other, says “Another fear that not a lot of people think about is how they are affected emotionally.”

Let’s say they take a call for a house fire and someone doesn’t come out, there is a chance that those firefighters are going to take that personally and think about that situation for a long time.  According to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, depression and suicide are prominent within this profession.

“It is estimated that suicide is three times more likely to happen in a fire department than a line of duty death, and it can almost always be prevented” reports the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation from 2014.

Frederickson and his team enjoy interacting with the community any way they can.  On his Facebook post on June 23, 2019, he posted “It’s not always about fighting fires and performing lifesaving interventions, sometimes it’s the little things that make such a profound impact on us and the citizens we serve.”

In between calls, Frederickson and another paramedic stopped at a lemonade stand with the ambulance.  In the picture provided on Frederickson’s Facebook page, there were three girls from the Eau Claire community selling homemade lemonade.  The three girls had the biggest grins on their faces.  Along with that sense of community, that is what makes this job so difficult.  Interacting with the community and possibly rushing into a friend’s house to save their life.

Frederickson didn’t start off wanting to be a firefighter.  He initially went to school to be a nurse, but he decided that wasn’t for him.  Quickly he realized he wanted to be a paramedic and a firefighter.  He studied at Madison Area Technical College in Madison, Wisconsin.  While working during his education Frederickson finished his degree in four years.  His goal from there was to land a job at the Eau Claire Fire Rescue.  His dreams came true when we started working there on February 19, 2018.

A firefighter prospect, Lucas Wolfe, says he doesn’t want an ordinary job where you sit at a desk.  He wants something that will keep him on his toes.  Wolfe says he saw Frederickson fighting a fire across the street from his home about a year ago and loved the rush and energy of the situation.  This is what made him decide to go into this field, despite the dangers that keeps others away from pursuing it.  Four-year universities seem to be the most popular, but these types of technical jobs are in high demand.

Frederickson is creating bonds with his fire and rescue team, but also with his community.  When asked where he sees himself down the road Frederickson said, “I hope to have a long and filling career, but when I retire, I hope I am still happy and healthy enough to enjoy my retirement.”

Frederickson enjoys his time at the Eau Claire Fire and Rescue.  This job keeps him on his toes, and he says that’s one thing he loves about this job.  With retirement as his end goal, Frederickson is engulfed with excitement.