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Firefighter/EMT Testimonials

Photo of Christopher Darmon Firefighter - Christopher Darmon
Serving since 5/12/2014

I wanted a career with HHHIFR because I learned that this was an introspective organization by reading the strategic plan. This department doesn't have a business as usual approach. It has a vision and a plan that coincides with it. We have measurable goals set to ensure progress is occurring. To me being part of this organization means being a member of a team that strives for excellence. Being here has allowed me the pleasure of being surrounded by peers who don't settle for "good enough" or "that will do". I believe there is an inherent culture in our organization that doesn’t accept mediocrity, and more is expected of everyone. It also means knowing that if you seek the proper channels anyone’s voice can be heard and make a difference. Whether it is joining a committee or doing project work, everyone has the opportunity to make a positive impact on this department and community.


Photo of Ken Dermody Firefighter - Ken Dermody
Serving since 11/3/2014

I chose this profession because it gives me the diversity of providing care and safety on two levels as a public servant. I wanted to work for Hilton Head Island Fire and Rescue because the Department seemed to be well organized in accomplishing its accreditation status. Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue made the testing process relatively easier than other departments, which in and of itself was appealing to me. Being a member of this department has allowed me to become a member of a big family. As a recent new hire to the Town of Hilton Head Island, I have enjoyed the town’s warm welcoming and influx of knowledge. This has made the transition here much smoother than anticipated, which is sometimes overlooked.


Photo of Savannah Fuentes Firefighter - Savannah Fuentes
Serving since 5/28/2013

In working for HHIFR, I have found a career where I can give back to the community that I grew up in. It is a career that means more than just going to work every day, but where each day is different and I have the opportunity to learn and grow. HHIFR's emphasis on customer service, commitment, responsibility, and a passion to serve align very well with my personal values and provide an environment that I look forward to each shift.


Photo of Paul Jalbert Firefighter - Paul Jalbert
Serving since 3/18/2013

I was very familiar at young age with the sacrifices it took to be a Fire Fighter being the son of one, but it wasn’t until I went out into the world on my own that I realized the fire service was calling my name. Working for Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue has been one of the most awarding and challenging parts of my life. I am happy to come to work and love what I do. Whether it is Emergency Medical Services, Haz-Mat, Special Rescue, or a Structure Fire I’m excited to go to work. I am proud to put on my uniform and proud to say that I am a Fire Fighter. Our department has top of the line equipment, our training is pertinent to what we do and we are also an all hazards department, which means we respond to a wide variety of emergency scenes.


Photo of Nate Skager Firefighter - Nate Skager
Serving since 11/3/2014

I chose the profession of Firefighter primarily for one reason:

I was taught early on in life by my father that every able bodied individual has an obligation to serve their country, community and/or town in some capacity at one point during their lifetime. The career of Firefighting, in my opinion, is the best way to serve our community and that is why I have chosen this career.

I chose to apply for Hilton Head Fire Rescue because nearly all of my family and my wife's family lives on Hilton Head. I have spent the past 13 years living on this Island and have met and established relationships with hundreds of local families primarily due to my previous career of Director of Soccer for the Island Rec Center. HHIFR is also an outstanding department with very competitive pay and benefits.

Being a Firefighter for the Town of Hilton Head Fire Rescue offers a great sense of pride. This career enables you to help the citizens of your community in multiple facets. It's an amazing thing to be able to help save a life while working a cardiac arrest, for example, and then later that same day jump in the fire engine to help save someone else’s house from burning to the ground.

As a Firefighter during an emergency, you encounter people often at one of the worst moments of their lives. They count on you to help fix the situation. This job is certainly not for everyone; however, for those that choose this path, Firefighting can be one of the most rewarding and exciting careers out there.


Photo of CJ Steedley Firefighter - CJ Steedley
Serving since 10/4/2012

Growing up I watched my dad who was a firefighter and have always admired and looked up to him for it. Some would say that it's in my blood. I chose this profession because I enjoy helping others. After completing my Business Degree at USCB, I realized I wanted to be more involved serving the community that I was born and raised in. I wanted something that challenged me to be on top of my game at all times. We are constantly striving to be better and overcome any challenges we face. Being a Firefighter/EMT requires you to constantly adapt, train, and stay educated in the world we live. It's a great feeling waking up in the morning to be part of such a great organization and team. The department is like an extended family.


Photo of Joe Gilling Fire Apparatus Operator - Joe Gilling
Retired

My name is Joe Gilling and I wanted to tell you a little bit about Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue. I started my career with Hilton Head in 1990 and retired from this organization in 2015. I can tell you it was one of the most rewarding things I've done with my life and would recommend the same career path to anyone that enjoys helping others.

 I found serving with the Town of Hilton Head Fire Rescue to be a great opportunity for personal and professional development. Continuously being surrounded by people that want to deliver a high level of service with a true commitment to learn as much as they can about the fire service then teaching those skill sets amongst themselves truly helped me learn and be a better fire service member. Our local government staff has a commitment to working with the customers they serve. They work tireless hours helping people via the career path they have chosen. The Fire and Rescue Division of the Town Of Hilton Head allows you to assist people at what many will later tell you was one of the worst times in their lives. This is a career that will not be for everyone but this group gets it, and put the time into getting it right. I very much enjoyed being a part of dedicated group of men and woman who know what the right thing to do is, then do it, they do it better then the customer expected them to.

The Town Of Hilton Head Island has a long history of infrastructure improvement. When I use the term infrastructure I'm not talking about buildings and trucks (although the organization is very good at those things too), I'm talking about people. Over the years I've seen many people come into the organization and many leave. Most of those that left were simply not ready for the challenges of personal and professional development that was to be asked of them and moved on. Those that have stayed were challenged to develop with the organization as I was and became a part of a working infrastructure that is what I believe to be very solid. This infrastructure development comes from good long range planning, execution of the plan and a commitment form both the town leadership and the tax paying public. All of these things are in place on Hilton Head Island. Look around and you will see it, this is not your everyday local government. Progressive things are happening here and they are a product of good infrastructure development.

My firefighting career with the Town of Hilton Head has come to a close but the things I've learned, seen, been a part of stay with me as I go forward. It is a pure pleasure looking back over time to see what this organization has become and even more exciting to see where it's going!

Best of luck in your future.


Photo of Tim Kelly Fire Apparatus Operator - Tim Kelly
Serving since 1/1/1988

I chose this career because it was a calling. My father spent 33 years with Memphis Tn. Fire department, and I grew up in the atmosphere. I have spent almost half of my life with this organization, over 25 years, and would not change anything about my life here. Helping people in need is not just a job, it is a commitment, and if you enjoy working with highly trained and motivated individuals, this job is for you.


Photo of Sebastian Arango Senior Firefighter - Sebastian Arango
Serving since 12/14/2011

My name is Sebastian Arango and I am a Senior Firefighter for Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue. I joined this organization back in December of 2011 and I haven’t looked back. I came from a small beach town in Florida. I was 21 when I joined the fire department, and all I wanted to do was fight fire and go on really intense medical calls. After I joined, I realized that there was much more to this job. I had joined one of the oldest brotherhoods in the USA, and I found that helping people in many different ways was extremely rewarding. What first interested me in Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue was it was a beach town. I'll be honest and say that I had never heard of Hilton Head Island, but once I got here and started working with the people, that I now proudly call my brothers and sisters, I found that everyone I came in touch with was very welcoming and helpful. Being a member of Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue has been one of the most rewarding decisions I have ever made. I have gotten the chance to meet and encounter many interesting people. The work schedule of 24 hours on and 48 hours off, gives me plenty of time to enjoy anything from the beach to the surrounding low country and even downtown Savannah (45 minutes away). From just an assistance call to a cardiac arrest, there is no other profession where you can be thrust into someone’s life at their most vulnerable and make a positive influence.


Photo of Colin Fanning Lieutenant - Colin Fanning
Serving since 3/14/2005

What being a Firefighter means to me!
For more than 200 years the fire service has selflessly without hesitation responded to just about every type of call for help and emergency imaginable. Over those same years, the number and complexity of these calls have grown, pushing the fire service to perform tasks and handle situations never before imagined. From fire suppression to emergency medical services; hazardous materials mitigation and weapons of mass destruction training to rescue services, the fire service does it all. This field promotes the most competent individuals from all avenues of the trades. If there was ever such a title as "Jack-of-all-trades, Master of none", you most likely would find a firefighter behind the uniform. Truth be told, firefighters do tend to master those trades. Give us a challenge and well figure it out and overcome it.

Why did I get involved with the fire service? In 1995, I started volunteering as a junior firefighter with the Clarks Summit Volunteer Fire Company No. 1, in my home town of Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. As I look back when I was seventeen years old I realized I wanted to do something that money could not buy. I developed a passion to save lives, help people and make a difference. Deciding to become a firefighter is not accepting a job. Its not choosing a career, honestly quite the contrary, the fire service chooses you. Becoming a firefighter is choosing a life style! Becoming a firefighter opens the door to a very special family full of very special people.

It does take a special person to be a firefighter. It takes the kind of person who loves to help people and enjoys being challenged. A firefighter has a passion to serve the community. This passion is not gained; it's a passion that comes from within. A person needs an unwavering passion, a love for the job, to become a firefighter.


Photo of Lee Jenkins Lieutenant/Paramedic - Lee Jenkins
Serving since 3/20/2006

Becoming a Firefighter with the Town of Hilton Head Island has been one of the most important choices that I have ever made. I chose this profession because helping others is important to me. I always knew that I wanted to have a positive impact on people. I spent my whole childhood growing up on Hilton Head. My family is native to the island. I graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelors Degree in Marketing. Soon after achieving my goal of completing college, I knew that I wanted to put myself in a position to leave a positive mark on the lives of others. I wanted to be a part of a team atmosphere and a family oriented environment. I returned home after college to serve the people and the community that raised me. By serving the residents of and visitors to Hilton Head Island, I am able to positively impact the lives of many people. I have learned the value of being respectful and remaining humble. In this profession, we strive to begin the process of healing or helping someone in their time of need. As a Firefighter and Paramedic with the Town of Hilton Head Island, I realize that I must lead by example. I genuinely and sincerely want to be servant to my community.


Photo of B.J. Ferguson Lieutenant/Paramedic - B.J. Ferguson
Serving since 1/15/2002

I have been employed by the Town of Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue for 13 years. I have seen many exciting changes over that time. I am extremely proud to be a part of a world class department. The facilities and the personnel are a few of the reasons why I believe we have the best job around. It is a great honor and privilege to work and live in this community. I have had many opportunities to make positive changes in the lives of the local residents. Whether on emergency calls or for public assistance, I take pride in performing my duties as a Senior Firefighter/Paramedic.

I chose this career because of the chance to make a difference in my community. HHHIFR has offered many opportunities for personal career advancement. I enjoy training new firefighters and paramedics. The leadership role is a role that I have come to respect and admire.

This career is also extremely physically demanding. Firefighters can find themselves in a wide range of demanding situations. For these reasons, mental and physical preparedness are paramount.

I have made many friendships over the years. I consider my fellow employees a part of my extended family. There is a strong sense of camaraderie when you report to work that you don't get from most other professions. I consider myself lucky and privileged to be a part of HHHIFR. It is a great feeling to look forward to a positive future.


Photo of Scott Mason Lieutenant - Scott Mason
Serving since 8/25/1993

Growing up as a young kid in the mid-1970's every Saturday night a TV show was on called "Emergency". The show featured two firefighters who were paramedics from LA in dramatic situations each week. This always interested me to serve the public and have such a unique skill such as a paramedic. Years later after finishing my first enlistment in the Navy I decided to further my knowledge and become a paramedic. The opportunity was presented to me while working for a local fire department to apply to Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue. Not being from the Beaufort County area one of my current co-workers told me if I was a paramedic Hilton Head Island was the place to be. Talking his advice and weighing my options I applied and was hired on in the summer of 1993. I quickly found out he was right exactly right because I was surrounded by other with the same values and goals as I had. Being a member of this department is not just a job, it is a lifelong career where I enjoy all aspects of the job serving the citizens of Hilton Head Island. Some 20 plus years later the team work and comradery in which I am surrounded by every day makes me proud to wear the uniform and be a valued part of Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue.


Photo of John Starykowicz Lieutenant - John Starykowicz
Serving since 11/9/1994

I chose this profession due to it was a family business, being a third generation firefighter was the only thing I wanted to be. I chose Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue because it was the only department in this area that was running both fire and medical services. At that time I was working for an EMS agency, but I missed the fire service and knew I wanted to be part of a fire department again. I like being part of a progressive and aggressive fire department. The department is a leader and enervator in the fire service with in the region.

Over the past twenty year that I have been with Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue I have enjoyed being part of the department. It is a great organization that cares about the community and our guests. Our department is very customer orientated and that is one of the best reasons to be here, if you enjoy helping people you can do well here.


Photo of Ryan ZoldLieutenant - Ryan Zold
Serving since 10/16/2006

I was fortunate enough to come across this department's application notice in 2005 while I was finishing up an enlistment in the Navy. I had never been to Hilton Head or any other part of South Carolina prior to applying. I spent the last nine months of my enlistment flying all over the country taking entry level examinations and by chance, HHIFR was the first department to call and make me a job offer. Prior to coming here, I spent 6 years as a volunteer firefighter in New Jersey and I knew from a very young age this was the profession I wanted to be involved in. It's a calling, a career, and a lifestyle for me. I enjoy being able to look forward to work every third day and especially enjoy giving back to the community I live in. Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue is just as diverse as the community it serves and we constantly search for motivated individuals who want to be part of our team.


Photo of Chris Blankenship Captain - Chris Blankenship
Serving since 5/23/2002

I chose this profession in high school because a bunch of my friends dads were volunteer firefighters and I thought it looked interesting. I began my fire service career as a cadet firefighter in high school through a job exploration program and went on to obtain my bachelor’s degree in Fire Science at Eastern Kentucky University.

I choose Hilton Head Fire Island Fire Rescue because I did my college internship with Fire Rescue and once I got to experience the island and organization its where I wanted to spend my career.

Being a member of Fire Rescue gives me great satisfaction knowing that I get to work with a great men and women in a great organization. I love serving our residents and guests of the island.

Throughout my career I have been able to experience most all facets of the job. From Intern through Captain, I have worked at all stations and on all shifts at some point. I have been able to obtain my paramedic certification, USAR Tech, Hazmat Tech, and become a SCFA Instructor. The possibilities of this job are only limited by you...


Photo of Benton Waller Battalion Chief - Benton Waller
Serving since 1/15/2003

I chose this profession because I wanted to help other people in a career that was challenging, exciting, and rewarding.

Fire Rescue is all of those things and more. I have been a firefighter and paramedic for more than 40 years, and I still love the work.

I was attracted to Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue after 27 years with other fire and EMS departments because of the reputation of being the "best of the best". I was also attracted by the ability to do both firefighting and EMS work with a single employer, the semi-tropical location, and the opportunity to live in a beautiful area with a complete different ecology from where I previously lived.

The best thing about being a Hilton Head island Firefighter/Paramedic is the terrific employee group we haveThey are smart, motivated, tough, and dedicated.

We have a unique opportunity to make things better for people who are having the worst day of their lives, and we often do just that.

If you think you can measure up to a department that uses employee involvement, state-of-the art equipment, and that wins frequent national awards, apply to become a Hilton Head island Firefighter/EMT.