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Dedicated, skilled and professional. That's what can be said about the members of the Scottsdale Fire Department. On duty 24/7, 365 days a year, firefighters are always ready to answer the community's call for help. Whether they're fighting fires or educating the public about safety, these heroes are prepared for any emergency. Welcome to Cat Galaxy's newest and hottest series Engine Co. Scottsdale featuring the members of the SFD. 

Wildfire Media Academy Teaches Journalists About Fire Danger

Photo By Jobi Rosen

Cat Galaxy's very own Cat Protector assists firefighter Jeremy Reed with a fire hose during 

the Wildfire Media Academy held earlier this month by the SFD to teach journalists about fire safety.


Recently, the Scottsdale Fire Department held its second Wildfire Media Academy to demonstrate to reporters what fire crews go through when fighting a wildfire. Held at Station 614 in Northeast Scottsdale, reporters and camera crews from various news stations and media outlets, including Cat Galaxy received some hands-on experience so we can see just how tough it is and how firefighters deal with the job. Participants attending this academy got to handle the very tools used by fire crews and were shown how to clear brush, jump into fire shelters (firefighters use these to protect themselves when the fire is surrounding them. They are told to drop their gear and pull the shelters over their bodies and lay tightly on the ground. While it is 1200 degrees outside the shelter, inside it's 200 degrees and the firefighter also must take their radio and a bottle of water with them and lie tight and close to the ground). 


Journalists also learned how to carry hoses, had a Q&A session with SFD crews about firefighting techniques, safety and proper terminology when it comes to reporting fires.  Attendees also viewed a demonstration by a Maricopa County Sheriff's Department Bell 407 helicopter which showed how they pick up the water and then drop it on a fire. Click the picture above to see a special video clip of the aerial demonstration.

Scottsdale Firefighters Respond To Cats Meows!

Photo courtesy of the Scottsdale Fire Department.

Firefighter Nick Pajic holds a kitten which he and fellow crewmembers rescued

from a home in Scottsdale last summer. The mother cat escaped the incident.


For Scottsdale firefighters saving lives comes pretty naturally, but when a mother cat and her kittens were stuck inside the wall of a Scottsdale home, Firefighters Nick Pajic, Mark Formanek, Jeff Perry and Pete Tocco from Ladder Co. 603 happily responded to the call. On this episode of the Engine Co. Scottsdale Podcast, Pajic talks about that moment and what happened to the cats afterward. Click on the picture above to hear the episode or right click on the photo and choose "save target as" and the episode will begin downloading. 


Fire Chief Featured On First Engine Co. Scottsdale podcast 

Photo by Nohl Rosen


Chief William "Willie" McDonald of the Scottsdale Fire Department joins us 

on the first Engine Co. Scottsdale podcast. Click the picture above to listen.


There is no question Chief Willie McDonald has successfully put together one of the finest and most highly equipped departments in the fire service. In the very first podcast of Engine Co. Scottsdale Chief McDonald shares his thoughts about the new series as well the plans for new fire stations to be built in Scottsdale.


Work & Safety First Before Fun At 611


Photo by Nohl Rosen

Scottsdale Firefighter Brant Williams of Station 611 performs a 

ladder system check on the fire truck as it reaches towards the sky.


A firefighter's day isn't always filled with battling fires or going on dramatic rescues. Sometimes the job is making sure things are in proper working order and training for every eventuality. At Station 611, located in the DC Ranch area, it's not an uncommon sight to see the fire crew doing equipment checks or training for an emergency. Whether it's inspecting the truck inside and out to make sure everything works, or studying hydraulics, firefighters show that being prepared can be one of the most important factors in saving a life. 


The crew does have fun because a break from the grueling work schedule they face is important, especially when they have to work a 24 hour shift away from their family. But when it comes to the job, the firefighters can tell you they don't fool around. Having a sense of humor can also help cope with many the difficult situations that firefighters face. To them, the people they work with are considered an extended family.


"No one wants to be away from family for any extended period of time, whether it's 8 hours a day you work or 24 hours like us. This is not guys you work with, this is your family. As much on the outside as it appears that we joke, everybody takes this job very seriously. We like to have a sense of humor in the firehouse. The six of us get along very well but when the alarms go off, it's a switch and it's time to go to work" said Firefighter Nick Lorenz.


Lorenz who served in the military, found that being a firefighter is a bit more challenging because instead of being directed by someone else he's had a chance to learn and excel on his own terms, as well as experience new things as a member of the SFD. Though he's gaining skills as a firefighter, Lorenz is no stranger to this proud family. His own father was a firefighter. And just like tradition sometimes dictates, Lorenz's 1 year old son will have the chance to grow up knowing exactly what his father does and just how he helps the public every day. Lorenz loves kids and indicated that pool safety is one of his concerns, and that parents need to be more responsible in keeping kids safe, especially around water.


"It's sad to say that we live in a state that typically leads the nation in drownings. A lot of people unfortunately are under the perception and misconception that it happens to the lower income families. Statistics will show you that just isn't the case," Lorenz said.


He also mentioned that there seems to be a profile some parents have when it comes to pool drownings, such as thinking it can only happen in such areas like Glendale or South Phoenix, when in reality it can happen just about anywhere. As a parent, Lorenz mentions that it frustrates him that some of the deaths could have been avoided if adults were more vigilant around their children.


"My biggest pet peeve with fire safety is just the unfortunate, unnecessary loss of life due to not watching your kids around the water.  No child should have to suffer that way and lose their life at 4 years of age because an adult failed to do their job," Lorenz added.


Firefighter Jamie Majchrzak also agreed with Lorenz's assessment on child safety. He too is a parent of four kids. He also mentions that even older children (high school age) still need to be taught that reckless behavior can possibly result in a loss of life, whether it's theirs or someone else's. Drinking and driving is just one of the problems teens face and when an accident happens the firefighters often see the end result.


"High school kids aren't adults. They still need to be parented, they still need to be looked over. They still need to be held accountable.  They still need to be taught that you can't drink and drive. They still need to be taught that you can't be out there being behind the wheel and being stupid.  It's being taken advantage of. We go out on so many calls and you see people that are just totally drunk. They don't see the importance of it (not to drink and drive). Kids don't think it's a big deal," said Majchrzak who has seen outcome of what driving drunk can do.


Majchrzak points out that those kids who do in fact get lucky and are able to walk away from a fatality after being under the influence of alcohol, don't seem to think it's a major issue. In their minds, it's as if the incident was a minor one. But in reality, alcohol and driving simply don't mix. 


"We get kids that get in fender benders or single vehicle accidents. We go on those calls a lot more than the fatalities. We went on one not too long ago where the driver of the vehicle couldn't even stand up because he was so drunk. I don't know why it's so difficult that when you drink you don't drive? I don't know what the problem is with that? People can't seem to get it in their head that you don't drink and drive," said Majchrzak.


Majchrzak also supports Lorenz's assessment about pool safety and that when you become a parent you've accepted the job of making sure that child is safe. But drunk driving can have a far reaching affect.


"If someone's kid drowns, that's going to affect their family very very hard, it's not going to affect mine. But if you drive on the road drunk you can affect my family," Majchrzak says.


Despite the tragedies that happen, firefighters have that determination to getting the job done. Even for Majchrzak who has spent 15 years with the SFD and has also worked for 3 other fire related agencies, he says there are times that even fire crews need to deal with the horrors they might see when they get to certain scenes. Each call can affect someone differently and the SFD has made sure that firefighters always have the opportunity to talk someone on scene and off. 


"The department has taken a very proactive stance in developing our CISD (Critical Incident Stress Debriefing) Teams that come out immediately after a call and we have all the help we need in dealing with the stuff we deal with," said Majchrzak.


Lorenz added that these special people did a great job in helping those firefighters who not so long ago were the first responders to a horrific triple shooting in North Scottsdale. Lorenz's father, a 23 year veteran of the fire department (and who is somewhat spiritual) gave him some advice when it comes to dealing with the emotional parts of the job. Lorenz repeats his father's words which puts everything in perspective. 


"Nick, bad things happen unfortunately. It's a privilege from God that he's been put in this job where he can be there as one of the first people to try to make a difference for those that have been hurt, injured, sick, or violated," Lorenz added citing his father's words with pride.


Lorenz like his father is also honored to be in the position to touch and help so many lives. The same can be said about all the firefighters who go out every day on calls. The job for them comes first and dealing with the emotional scars they might have comes later. Whether they talk to each other about the call and how they are feeling about it, each firefighter ultimately knows this large family will always be there for them an extra perk which is always a welcome part of the department.


"We also have each other as a support group. That's just another bonus to the fire service," Lorenz stated proudly.


Did you know that two of the Professional Medical Transport (PMT) trucks have firefighters that staff them? Each ambulance staffs one paramedic and one Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). When the City of Scottsdale transitioned to a new provider of emergency ambulance services an agreement was made to staff them with firefighters in the northern part of the city. These ambulances which are called rescues are also held to a faster response time which has been met each month since this part of the program was put into action.


Photo By Nohl Rosen

Captain Bill Crowther of the SFD performs an equipment check to make 

sure everything is in perfect working order in case an emergency happens.



More about the firefighters interviewed and other facts: 


Both Firefighter Jamie Majchrzak and Nick Lorenz have animals at home. Majchrzak has a 10 year old large blue & gold female Macaw at his house. Besides the SFD, Majchrzak also worked for the Orange County Fire Authority, California Department of Forestry, and Tustin Federal Fire Department on a Marine base as a civilian firefighter. On his off days he spends with his family and he likes to cook many different types of food from pasta to burgers. In regards to cooking Majchrzak joking said "the best thing about cooking is you don't have to do the dishes afterwards"


Lorenz grew up with having cats in his household and now has two large dogs in his household. He considers himself an animal lover and has been on a few snake removal calls. Lorenz also served in the Marine Corps for before deciding to become a firefighter. Besides his father, Lorenz's younger brother also is a member of the fire department. Lorenz mentions that he is glad to have chosen his career path and credits his father for helping him choose this profession. 


"Thank God he was a firefighter because I probably would have chosen any path that he went down. He just happened to be in a great career with a family. I grew up in a firehouse with those guys, that was my extended family. Here I am (now) with another family," Lorenz mentioned proudly.  


For fire safety tips or for more information about the SFD check out their web site at or call them at 480-312-8000.


Are you enjoying this series? Now, you can write and show support for this series, the firefighters , and the SFD by logging onto our Feline Forum and accessing the Engine Co. Scottsdale message area. You might also see a firehouse recipe posted as well. 


About the series production....

Engine Co. Scottsdale is produced, written and hosted by Nohl Rosen. Production credits also go to Isis, Jade and Icarus Rosen. We also thank Dave Cieslak, Chief William McDonald and the members of the SFD for allowing us to do this series.