One day in 1969, a young man was hitch hiking his way to San Jose, California on Highway 280.
Irvin Roth, a Jewish Professor at Foothill Junior College, picked him up and asked two questions:
After hearing "NO" to the first two questions, Professor Roth asked a third question, "Would you like to join the fire service?"
Aimlessly going through life with no job, no place to call home and, absolutely no hope or thoughts of a career, the young man quickly answered, "Yes". He simply figured that the fire service was better than nothing.
Dr. Roth immediately changed his route and took that young man back to the Foothill College campus, where he taught, and stopped at the Los Altos Fire Station. There, the young man was instructed to fill out an application to become a Student Firefighter. The pay rate was $25/Month, plus housing. The young man had never been in a fire station in his life and had never known a firefighter. This miraculous change of events was as overwhelming to him as it was unexpected.
Shortly thereafter this young man was offered an interview, then a position as a student firefighter. Later he became a summer relief firefighter and finally was offered a position as a full time firefighter with the Los Altos Fire Department.
The promise that he made to himself was to do just as Dr. Roth had done: To help young people in their pursuit of a career within the Fire Service, regardless of color, gender or background. After a successful 34-year career within the Fire Service, I am now able to vigorously pursue my two passions:
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Firefighter's ABC's wishes you the absolute best in your pursuit of a career within the Fire Service.
Russell G. Hayden and Dr. Irvin Roth
Russell G. Hayden CEO and Founder
Firefighter Diversity Recruitment Council
National Recruit Database
34 Years Fire Service (San Jose, Retired)
Recruit Officer, Public Education Officer,
Public Information Officer, Company Liaison Officer
Co-Founder, Santa Clara County Black Firefighters Association (1973)