Meet Miguel Quintero, a CJPVFD EMT, Firefighter, and Swift Water Rescue Technician. Here, he is interviewed by CJPVFD administrative member, Dave Sidhu.
DS: What led you to volunteer with the Department?
MQ: I had been thinking about joining a LFRD for quite a while then I was jogging on Billy Goat Trail B when I saw the swift water boats in the water. It hit me then and there that I would not only be a volunteer firefighter but also be a swiftwater rescue team member. I went home and had a long discussion with my wife on the time commitment and that I really wanted this, and here I am today.
What have you found to be the most rewarding or fulfilling aspects of Department service?
The rewards of volunteering at a firehouse are two fold: 1) I feel like I am actually giving back and helping folks in need when we show up in their times of need and can help them or take them to the hospital. 2) Volunteering is like joining a second family where I get to learn from others and help mentor younger members in not only emergency services but with life in general. Joining the fire department is time consuming and very demanding but it became an obsession that made me a better human and challenged me in ways I did not anticipate. The rewards of friendship, leadership development , and time management not only helped with home life but parlayed quite nicely into my day job.
What have you found to be the most challenging aspects of Department service?
The most challenging aspect of Department service is time commitment. I am married with two kids and volunteering to be a Firefighter and Swift Water Rescue Technician all while working a full time job as an engineer. I have to be mindful of not overcommitting in order to spend quality time with my family while being sure to stay sharp and abreast of all the training and challenges that come with being a firefighter.
Where did you grow up, what did you want to be when you were young?
I grew up in Ft. Lauderdale, FL where I wanted to be a professional surfer/beach bum. When I realized that I needed to make actual money, and I was not a very good surfer, I learned about becoming an Ocean Engineer. I pursued that academic pursuit for the better part of 7 years where I obtained my Master's Degree in Ocean Engineering from the University of Hawaii (and I did become a better surfer there). After school, I ended up becoming an Ocean Engineer for the NSWC Carderock Division where I get to work in the indoor wave pool and where I spend my lunch hour running the Billy Goat Trails, and discovering my future passion!
Do you find your service to be helpful or useful in your profession?
Yes very much so. Being a firefighter, you have to be proactive and thoughtful. You need to have plan a, b, c, and d when approaching a problem and be flexible enough to take criticism and other ideas to modify you plans for a quick and efficient response. Volunteering has taught me many skills that directly related to my profession and actually help me better manage my workload and time commitments. Working at the firehouse exposes you to a lot of personalities and from all different viewpoints and walks of life, this has helped me be more responsive and understanding of different points of view and value input from everyone, not just my superiors, at work and at the fire house.
What message do you have for anyone thinking about volunteering with CJPVFD? Would you recommend volunteering?
I most definitely recommend volunteering! If you are willing to dedicate the time and have a heck of time learning life skills that will make you a better person, I can't say enough great things about my experience and knowledge I have gained.
What hobbies do you have outside of work and volunteering?
Outside of work and volunteering, I thoroughly enjoy spending time with my wife and two kids outside hiking a trail or riding our bikes. I do enjoy mountain biking, trail running, playing baseball, and trying to get in the water to swim or surf when I get the opportunity.