In this cold generation, called “Generation X,” where young men and women find themselves lost wondering what to do with their life, finding a passion for something, a passion that rules your life, is very important. I found out in my interview with Phil Gervais that unlike many of his generation he has a direction.He looks like any other 18 year old, but he is different because in some way he has what many of us lack: he knows what he wants. He wants to become a firefighter. Phil has found a passion that rules his life.
Phil is pursuing a major in Social Rehabilitation but as soon as he finishes college, he will apply for a job with the Fire Department in his hometown of Ware Massachusetts. How did Phil develop this passion? Phil’s desire to become a firefighter is an inherited trait because for generations many members of his family served as firefighters.This family legacy remarkably influenced Phil’s choices in life. His grandfather Ernie, an emigrant from Canada, became the first one to enroll as a volunteer firefighter. Then his father, his uncle and finally his aunt all became firefighters. Phil used to go with his father when he answered his fire calls. While accompanying his father in 1992, a time when Phil was only 8 years old, he saw a victim of a fire for the first time.His first encounter with a dead person did not discourage him from the idea of becoming a firefighter. How did it happen? One afternoon he went with his father to the scene of a fire and there he suddenly saw in the middle of the floor a dead body of one of the victims of the fire. Partially covered with a blanket, Phil could only see a few burned spots on the hands. Nevertheless, he was not scared. While accompanying his father on many fire calls, Phil heard many terrible noises and he felt the heat of the fire. He saw tragic sights such as the dead body on many occasions. These scenes became commonplace during his childhood.Now eighteen years old, Phil works as a volunteer firefighter in his hometown. Only last week he was able to put his training to practice in a real fire call. Lamentably, due to the bitter cold his first experience in a real fire was not easy. The actual fire took place in a farmhouse in the town of Ware. The fire lasted four hours. A potential danger existed because the electrical wires came down and a propane gas tank could have exploded anytime. Phil, used to the danger, feared nothing but that did not make the job easier.Battling fire in sub-zero temperatures brought new problems. As Phil observed, “everything went wrong and the water freezes . . . the floor became a sheet of slippery ice, wet and tired I was glad the fire was over.”
Phil knows that this career could be life threatening or lead you into a depression but he told me that psychological services are available in case any firefighter needed them. Phil will have to present a test in order to become a formal firefighter. The exam includes a test of his abilities, his knowledge of CPR and his capabilities at first response. Phil does not worry about the test. He says that the test helps minorities or family members of present firefighters become members. Because of his family’s involvement in fire fighting Phil believes that he has a sure spot on the Ware Fire Department.
In the same way that his family’s career choices influenced Phil’s life, we should ask ourselves what type of influences did we receive from our own close relatives? Did their career choices have an impact on our own decisions? We must also ask if we serve as an example to others in our choice of careers. If someone has a passion in life, like Phil Gervais, they can serve as a positive role model for the rest of us. Perhaps Phil Gervais’ passion for fire fighting proves that so called “Generation X” is not as lost as people say.