Thursday, July 25, 2013
By A.M. Sheehan
The Journal Scene
Twenty-two-year-old Kristen Dias moved to Summerville from California when she was 16. She graduated from Summerville High School in 2009, went to Trident Technical College for a bit and then decided what she really wanted was to join the fire department. So she did.
In January of 2011, Dias joined Summerville Fire Department as a firefighter. Having already earned her EMT qualification on her own, Dias went to the fire academy to learn firefighting. She works C-shift for SFD, 24 hours on, 48 hours off, is the routine.
Now, after two and half years, she says she will go back to college, part time. She also has her eye on working her way up the promotions ladder at SFD.
“I would like to get my Intermediate EMT or Firefighter Paramedic qualification,” she says. “I am starting the promotions book for third driver.”
Third driver is one step under engineer, she explains. You fill in for the driver; manage the pump/water supply, and such.
“I am not a math whiz, but I am getting it!” she laughs.
What she really loves, she says, is being “first due.”
“It’s an adrenaline rush.”
First due is the first engine to arrive at a fire and the first firefighters to go inside a burning building.
Although she has yet to fight a huge (commercial) fire, she has fought a rolling (fully involved) structure fire.
“I haven’t been exactly scared,” she says, “but very much aware. You think what could go wrong and you have a back-up plan to get you and your team out of a situation.”
She remembers getting toned out for a structure fire. When they arrived the roof/attic was fully involved.
“Cpt. Terry Keefer and I made entry through the front door and walked down the hall,” she recalls, “the fire was rolling over our heads. He told me to get on my knees and aim the water into the attic space to attack the fire.”
Ceiling bits – Sheetrock and wires – were falling.
“There was a lot of smoke and then the radio is telling us to exit…I was actually nervous at that point, there was a lot of heat,” she continues.
They got out.
“I like to think my crew and I have made a difference in people’s lives,” she says, “being able to help when everything possible is going wrong for them. There’s a sense of pride in that.”
Dias also works part time for C & B Fire Department in Sangaree.
What does she do to relax? Cross fitness.
“It’s a hobby,” she says.
She also enjoys fishing and kayaking. Most of all, though, she likes hanging out with her twin sister.
“I am going to be an aunt,” she says with excitement, “on September 27!” Dias noted that family comes first in her life.
Dias loves to travel as well. She wants to get her degree in some health/medical field; she isn’t quite sure which yet.
She admits her parents worry about her but “I would like to think they think highly of my career choice,” she says.
Her dad was a firefighter in New Jersey for eight years, she says, which might, possibly, have influenced her choice a bit.
“I like helping people, I like the physical aspect and I like showing people that girls can do it!”