Fire Chiefs Inspiring Fire Cadets

Tyree Bell

It is always a wonderful sight to see successful people in their chosen careers sharing knowledge upon the young, innovative minds that aspire to be just like them. On Monday, October 1st, 2018, the Charles Herbert Flowers’ Fire Cadets were paid a visit by Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department’s (PGCFD) Fire Chief, Benjamin Barksdale, and Assistant Fire Chief, Garry Kirchbaum. These two men bestowed a great amount of valuable information upon each individual in the room, calling every ear to listen.
Starting off the meeting, Fire Chief Barksdale acknowledges the benefits of education, especially in the Fire and EMS Division, as well as the benefits of the program that they (Fire Cadets) are enrolled in. While gaining certified information from the people who have experienced it, the students are also receiving on-the-job insights through different styles of training, some easy, and some more complex. Chief Barksdale then begins to expound on this concept by placing his life on display for everyone to connect to. As enthused listeners of his audience, the Fire Cadets were able to identify that Chief Barksdale had different ideas for a career in mind during his college years. however, after discovering his passion for helping others in the Fire and EMS sector, he was able to manipulate his degrees in Business in Management to benefit him in his new path in life. Although he strengthens the need the for a strong education by expanding on his personal background, he then decides to make a claim that appeals to the listeners who do seek to pursue a college education by stating, “We still encourage you to come. We accept diversity.” Still remaining true to his position, he adds,”…but it makes a difference to save lives with advanced knowledge.” Wise words from a wise man.
Now, from what has been written, the reader of this article may be turned away from pursuing a career in Fire and EMS, but the benefits may reel you back in. One, exposure. Two, liberating. Three, impact. This profession allows you to travel the world, seeing many places that many people can only of seeing. It allows you to liberate the minds that come up under you, impacting lives at early ages, setting them up for success.
On the contrary, sacrifices have to be made, and Chief Barksdale makes that known.” Good…great…exceptional grades are a must, along with the absence of troubling incidents, and to make this even more clear and understandable, he uses pathos to appeal to the emotions of his audience. “[We ask of these things] because that’s what you would want!”
Brandon Dorsey: “What does an Arson Investigator consist of?”
Chief Barksdale: “Determining what causes a fire, and determining where the fire originated is the easy part. Now, trying to figure out who caused the fire is a lot more difficult.”
Venessa Benyella: “How long did it take to get to where you are right now?”
Chief Barksdale: “A total of twenty-seven to twenty-eight years. I served many years under the Arlington County Fire Department, eventually retiring in the of 2011. Later on, PGCFD offered me a position soon after I had retired, and since I love Prince Georges County, I accepted their offer.”
Ryan Hubbard: “When you were young, what made you want to be a firefighter?”
Chief Barksdale: “The Sense of Duty…”
Venessa Benyella: “If something happens while you, as the Fire Chief, is away, how does the team contact you, or, do they look to a person with a higher position in their time of need?
Chief Barksdale: “I set to appoint a chief while I am away, then they shall contact and inform me on the steps they have decided to take on that matter, as well as final decisions.”
After the final question has been answered, Fire Chief Benjamin Barksdale makes his closing remarks and introduces the next speaker, Garry Kirchbaum.
To begin his message to the young, innovative minds in the room, he chooses to present a few facts about what he does precisely. Ass. Chief Kirchbaum is responsible for the EMS Training Programs, and is constantly, “working behind the scenes to make them better [for you. There are] many options coming your way [that] we want you to take advantage of. It’s all about showing up and making a difference.”
Ass. Chief Kirchbaum, similar to Chief Barksdale, proceeds with background information about his life. He states how he had “no idea” of what he wanted to do, so, out of interest, he joined the volunteer fire department, and to this very day, he will tell you that joining was the best decision he could have made for his life. He adds, “Citizens depend on you when they have no other option…I love the fact that I have an impact on somebody else’s life.
To “piggy-back” of Chief Barksdale’s opposition, Kirchbaum makes education the number one priority.
“We don’t tolerate the number twos or the second best. It’s all about knowing and understanding your information. For example, if you are a C-Student. That’s about average, right? That falls at seventy percent out of one-hundred. Now, what if someone hands their baby, asking for help, and you don’t know what to do because you missed the other thirty percent of the information you needed to know? It’s not about you. You have to lose yourself to help others…to serve others.”
These stuck with students in the room, as the did with me.
Thank you Fire Chief Benjamin Barksdale and Assistant Fire Chief Garry Kirchbaum for visiting Charles Herbert Flowers High school and taking time out of your very busy day to liberate the minds and influence the lives of scholars who look up to you.
We appreciate you for all of the hard work and dedication that you give day in, and day out, to provide help for the people who need it in Prince George’s County, Maryland!