Becoming a full-time firefighter takes discipline and perseverance. From the competitive nature of the industry to the challenging training and life-threatening risks, there are many factors involved in a firefighter career. Grand Junction currently has 7 fire stations across the city, with the most recent station built in January of 2023.
For those looking to enter firefighting as a career, Grand Junction offers excellent benefits and opportunities. Jonathan Johnson, who has worked for the Grand Junction Fire Department for a year and a half, has seen that growth firsthand. “The City has built a new station every year for the past few years,” Johnson said.
“It can be a competitive career field, but it’s a good time to be in the Grand Junction area and want to be a firefighter because the department is growing,” said Dirk Clingman, who works in Community Outreach for the Grand Junction Fire Department.
Johnson played professional baseball for six years in the MLB (the last three with the New York Mets organization) and then coached for two years. He relocated from Southern California to Grand Junction two years ago. Grand Junction was attractive for a few reasons, he said, one of which was that his wife is a Colorado native.
“I was ready to get out of the big city,” Johnson said. “I have two little boys and we were looking for a place that had a better quality of life where we could spend more time outdoors,” and Grand Junction has proved the perfect place to do so. Johnson has also loved the relaxed way of life that he’s found in Grand Junction. “I grew up fishing with my dad, that was my favorite pastime with him. In Grand Junction, you get to do more of that. With my family being so young, we are enjoying hiking and camping right now.”
Johnson also expressed that his new career has proved to be even more fulfilling than expected. His favorite part is spending time and building relationships with the other firefighters. “I grew up playing baseball and spending a lot of time with my teammates and being in a firehouse reminds me of that time,” he said.
The training academy is 20 weeks long and fairly challenging, which prepared Johnson for the transition to working at Fire Station 2. Shortly after starting at Station 2, Johnson was called to a motorcycle and vehicle collision. A vehicle pulled out in front of a motorcyclist, causing a collision. “The motorcyclist was severely injured,” Johnson remembered. “He had a helmet on, which I believe saved his life. But he was in critical care at the hospital for months.”
Following the accident, the senior medic on the call ran into the gentleman after he was discharged from the hospital. “The man said he had wanted to come by the station and thank everyone who was on the call for saving his life. Knowing he walked out of the hospital was incredible because he wasn’t in good shape when he was with us.”
Every job has its pros and cons. The lack of sleep can be hard, Johnson said, but it’s manageable, and the job’s favorable aspects surpass any discomfort. “Having the support that everyone gives each other makes it a lot easier,” he said. “I thrive being with a group of people who have the same goal in mind. Interacting with my team and helping patients every day, to make a difference in their lives, is my calling.”
To learn more about working for the City of Grand Junction Fire Department, visit this page. If you’re looking for a new career, consider a position with the City of Grand Junction. The City has multiple positions open, in a variety of fields.