Firefighter Brandyn Dawson is completing his second year at the Lutz Station and his second year in the Hillsborough County department. Dawson is part of the Monday to Friday day crew. Dawson graduated from Gaither High School in Carrollwood and worked with afterschool sports programs for kids before venturing into firefighting. He interviews soon to become a career Hillsborough County firefighter.
Patch: What made you want to become a firefighter?
Dawson: I've always wanted to serve to community, it's just the way I was raised. I thought firefighting was the best way to do that.
Patch: Describe one of your most harrowing experiences on the job.
Dawson: It was just a few months ago. We answered a call to an address we recognized. An elderly man was making threats to his wife. When we arrived he was cursing us and continued to threaten her. The sheriffs finally took him away and the call was basically done. As we were exiting the premises, I remembered I forgot my clipboard and went back to get it. When I went back inside, the three dogs came running out. As I was trying to run out of there, I realized I probably shouldn't have turned my back on them. As I turned around and tried to fend them off with the metal clipboard, one got a hold of my leg, another tore my pant leg. They ripped up my heels pretty good.
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Patch: What was one of your more rewarding experiences?
Dawson: We got a smoke alarm call. Those are usually bogus calls but this one was the real deal. When we got there, smoke was already billowing out of the house. We put our gear on and got up to the house, no attack line just a five-gallon water cannon. Suddenly, the windows blew out and there was a big flash. It was just like in a movie. The Captain ordered us to get an attack line in there and called for backup. This was the first fire I was on where we were the only truck on the scene. We brought the line inside and started spraying the house down. I'm slushing through a puddle of water I've created, all the while wiping my mask so I could see. After we beat the fire back we went around with a thermal imager. We went in one of the rooms and saw this little ball of heat. The closer we got we could see a tail. Turns out it was the lady's cat huddled under a chair. We brought the cat out and once it got some fresh air, it was fine. The lady was very appreciative. It was nice for her to still have that cat after she'd basically lost her house.
Patch: What do you do to decompress after a long shift?
Dawson: I go to the gym, lift weights no matter how tired I am. It's a good way for me to destress. It kills the rest of the energy I have left and helps me get to sleep.
Patch: If you weren't working as a firefighter, what do you think you would be doing?
Dawson: I might be working at a gym or more likely a PE coach.
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