News 9 Spends 24 Hours On With OKC's Firehouse 21
There are 36 fire stations in Oklahoma City and each day, around 225 firefighters on duty. News 9 embedded one of its photographers, Bryan Witt, for 24 hours with Firehouse 21, to capture what happens during a typical shift.
"Every day is a Monday in the fire service," said Maj. Marcus Sandoval with the Oklahoma City Fire Department. "Every day is hectic."
Sandoval works at Firehouse 21, located at 3000 SW 29th Street in Oklahoma City.
"The firehouse is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year," he said.
Firefighters are ready to take any call and that readiness begins with equipment.
"That goes into checking bunker gear and then checking all of the tools and equipment and then checking the fire engine for the fire truck to make sure it's clean, presentable," Sandoval said. "Firefighters take pride in their tools and equipment. As public servants we're in the public eye and we want to look good."
During each call, whether it's a fire or car accident, safety is a priority.
"When we pull up the first thing that we have to determine is, 'is this scene safe for us to work in,'" he said. "We will exit the rig and determine 'okay, what are the severities of the injuries here? What are our biggest hazards? Do we have any exposures.' Once police get on the scene and determine we don't have anybody being transported, all of the patients have denied any kind of treatment, all of the immediate hazards are eliminated, yeah generally they will say 'you guys can return to service.'"
Spending so much time together, members of the firehouse develop a bond.
"We workout as a team and push each other, motivate each other and then we decide 'hey what do want to eat as a team," said Sandoval. "We will go to the grocery store. We clean the kitchen together, clean the station together so everything we do is together."
Sandoval says the question he gets asked the most is "what made you want to be a firefighter?"
"I think what draws you to it is the excitement, is the little bit of thrill, is the you never know what to expect," he said. "Personally, it's that coupled with the making a difference and the sense of pride that you get when you see a visible difference you made whether 'hey we got a good stop on that fire' or 'hey, that person is going to make it. Or it's as simple as handing a sticker to a kid. The smile that he gets, being able to be in the position to do that is pretty appealing and rewarding."
In 2018, the OKC fire department responded to 76,329 emergency calls.