Dan Haverty, the interim fire chief of the Lodi Fire Department, is not only trained to fight raging fires. He has also delivered babies, donated two-thirds of his liver to a bishop, and can build boats and cabinets.
Haverty, 56, came out of retirement in May to head the department as Lodi city officials search for the next fire chief.
Originally, he was only meant to stay about six months, but recently Haverty was asked by the city manager to extend his stay through the end of November.
Below, Haverty talks about his duties as a fire chief, the day-to-day activities of a firefighter and how he got started in the business.
Q: What are the duties of a fire chief?
A: As fire chief, I care deeply about ensuring that the department fulfills its mission and making sure that the needs of the firefighters, employees and community are met. It is crucial to keep employees and firefighters motivated in their jobs so that the workforce can be the best that it can be.
Q: What are the daily activities of a firefighter?
A: A firefighter checks in every morning with his captain. They change into their uniform and makes sure their gear is ready to go and on the unit (fire engine, fire truck, etc.) to which he is assigned. Gear includes a helmet, mask, gloves, pants and jacket. They check their breathing apparatus, which could save their life in certain situations, and then spends the next hour and a half exercising.
Once that is completed, a firefighter trains for a majority of they day and also goes out to help with educating the public on fire safety. In the mornings, firefighters also spend time cleaning the entire station, as it is both their workplace and their home.
Q: What do you think the fire department needs to improve?
A: One of our main priorities is improving the quarters at Fire Station 2. We are also working on improving support for our training program.
And the department will be switching to the 48-96 schedule in January. Firefighters will be at the station for 48 hours straight, and then off for 96 hours. Their work hours throughout the year won’t change, but it creates a more fluid schedule for everyone. We are excited to get that going.
Q: What about this job stresses you out the most?
A: Knowing that my firefighters are battling a host of unknowns when they go out on a call is a big concern. They don’t know a person’s injuries, if a person is trapped or whether a fuel tank has exploded. Air bags can deploy in their face or car bumpers can come flying off. I worry most about (firefighters) being safe and being able to go home to their wives and kids.
Q: How long have you been a firefighter?
A: I started out as a volunteer firefighter in Meeks Bay in 1983. I was in my early 20s. Two years later, I was hired on as a full-time firefighter. In 1987, I moved over to the American River Fire Department. Ten years later, I went to the city of Folsom and was their fire chief until I retired in late October 2010. Then, I came out of retirement in May to serve as interim fire chief in Lodi.
Q: What will you miss most about working with the fire department?
A: A couple of weeks ago, I was walking out of Fire Station 1 and the men were headed out on a call, sirens blaring and everything. I watched as they drove away and felt a tug in my chest. I love everything about this job. It will be tough leaving it.
Contact reporter Katie Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.