| April, 2021 Student Highlight
Chris Barry - Rancho Santa Margarita, California
Dean: How old are you Chris and where do you live?
Chris: I am 32 years old and live in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA. I am currently serving as a Community Relations Education Specialist for Orange County Fire Authority. I am very grateful to be able to combine my professional history in education with my passion and love for the fire service to be able to work directly within my community to educate the public on matters of fire/life safety and emergency preparedness.
Dean: Why do you want to be a firefighter and what draws you to the fire service?
Chris: Being a firefighter has been a dream job ever since I was in kindergarten when my family had to evacuate our house in Irvine during the 1993 Laguna Canyon fire (our house was fortunately saved). As I have gotten older, I have grown to realize how being a professional firefighter is the greatest job in the world.
Firefighters are leaders within their communities and their work is a force for good, something the world needs more of in 2021! I love that firefighters are highly skilled and have the ability to solve complex problems in a team environment while using tools and drawing on high levels of training. People call the fire department on their worst days or when they have a problem that they cannot solve, so no matter what kind of call they may run, firefighters are fortunate to have a job that brings stability, peace, and calm back into people's lives.
There are few jobs in this world that can guarantee that you can regularly leave such a positive impact on the world, and I cannot wait to earn a career badge so I can leave a positive impact and contribute to the legacy of the fire service.
Dean: What is your biggest accomplishment up to this point in your life?
Chris: One of my greatest accomplishments was training and studying for many months to earn a private pilot certificate back in 2012. Becoming a pilot was something I always wanted to achieve, so I took some time after finishing college to pursue this dream. In many ways, this process parallels my current pursuit of becoming a professional firefighter, as it involved a rigorous course of study, outstanding mechanical aptitude and hand/eye coordination, strong communication abilities, and a drive to achieve greatness.
Dean: What are some hobbies and interests you enjoy?
Chris: In addition to my aviation hobby, I also have been playing drums for almost 18 years. I have played in a variety of bands and ensembles and currently play in a rock band with some other talented musicians. In addition, my fiancé (Katie) and I love taking care of and playing with our two dogs, Dylan and Marley, a brother and sister half beagle/half-pit bull mix.
I have also been working on my cooking skills, so I am looking forward to bonding with my future crews in the station and cooking them a good meal.
Dean: What kinds of volunteer/community service do you enjoy participating in?
Chris: I currently volunteer as a Reserve Firefighter with Orange County Fire Authority. I am very grateful for this experience which has not only provided me with excellent training and exposure to the fire service, but also allows me to give back to the community where I have lived and worked for most of my life.
My station is in a WUI area, so we respond to wildland/vegetation fires and remote rescues in addition to traffic collisions, medical emergencies, and other miscellaneous hazards and public service needs. I also periodically volunteer at a local food bank. The food bank's goal is to eliminate hunger in Orange County, and getting to play a small role in achieving that goal is something I am proud of.
Check back each month as we highlight more students from the Firefighter Oral Interview Academy.