Firefighter James Simon


Nick Looney, Staff Writer

Recently, I have found out that one of Oratory’s own James Simon, has become a volunteer firefighter. With such an interesting and unique job, and the selfless and dangerous nature of it, I knew I had to investigate.


Nick: So James, introduce yourself.

James: I’m James Simon and a sophomore at Oratory Prep.


Nick: You recently became a volunteer firefighter, correct?

James: Yes, I decided to join the Morris township fire department around three months ago.


Nick: What inspired you to become a firefighter?

James: Service plays a significant part, but it all goes back to my uncle, who is the fire chief in Roanoke County.


Nick:  What was the application/hiring process like?

James: Mostly paperwork and checkups. Processing the forms took around three months, but I also had to go to the hospital to get checked during and after school.


Nick: What kind of training do you have to do?

James: At headquarters, I go on drills that help me deepen my skills as a fireman. There is a smokehouse, where we have to put on gear and packs. The smokehouse is entirely black and hot. It is mostly made up of small crevices, where we have to crawl through nets and unbalanced boards. I learned to keep an eye out on my fellow firemen and to make sure they are always behind me.


Nick: What are your responsibilities as a firefighter?

James: I have to come in every week at any time to work. Usually, it’s my responsibility to come to work after school or on the weekends. I always have to bring gear with me, and I have to make sure I text the group chat that I’m coming. By myself, I have to look at all the compartments and clean equipment. If there are any new volunteers, it is my job to tell them where everything is placed.  


Nick: How much do you work?

James: Since I have practice and homework, I try to go to work every weekend for 3 hours and on school days, at least for three days. It depends on my schedule, but if they call us down, then I have to go on duty.


Nick: How do you balance it with school and other activities?

James: It’s tough. I come home at 6 and do homework for an hour and a half. It will be longer if I have a test or an essay. Overall, I still try to come to headquarters frequently.


Nick: Have you gone on a call yet? If so, describe it.

James: Not yet, since I am 16, I can’t go outside the town. This limit calls to a few, especially for the other volunteers. I can ride in the truck and help fight fires outside, but it all depends on the location of where the call is.


Nick: Do you enjoy it?

James: You have to have the right mindset to be a volunteer fireman. If you are lazy and if you like procrastinating, the job isn’t for you. You learn to develop grit at the firehouse. I do enjoy it, it is like a 3rd family for me, with Oratory being my second. It builds character and shows how you can serve the community in a positive way.


Well, the future certainly looks bright for James. Not only is he developing grit and helping the community, but he also has a super cool job. The next time you see James, be sure to thank him for his service.

Image Credits to Morris Township