A Short Story

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:

  1. Where are you going?
  2. Are you in school or working?

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:

  • Providing future Firefighters with the preparedness, resources and motivation to become successful recruits.
  • Assisting Fire Departments in the realization of their diversity recruitment goals.

Lessons Learned

  1. Miracles Do Occur, but they happen more often if you are mentally prepared to recognize them and you immediately seize the moment.
  2. Preparation enables you to capitalize upon opportunities presented.
  3. Going the Extra Mile allows you to reach your goals at a more rapid pace.
  4. Awareness of Opportunities is the most critical step towards a successful career.

Now is the best time to join the National Recruit Database. Receive regular email alerts of upcoming firefighter recruitment notices. These will come directly from Fire Departments throughout the nation that are members of the Firefighter Diversity Recruitment Council. Also, get valuable tips and other resources that will help you on your way to becoming a successful recruit.

Join Now

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 – Founder
Firefighter's ABC's
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)

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A Short Story