North Texas Daily

A day in the life…of a Denton firefighter

A day in the life…of a Denton firefighter

October 24
23:42 2012

Melissa Wylie / Intern

On a sunny afternoon at Denton Fire Station No. 3, the fire engine is parked behind garage doors, and heavy, flameproof jackets hang neatly in lockers.

Inside, the firefighters finish lunch and tidy up their homelike surroundings, aware that dispatch could call at any moment and disrupt the peace.

Among the firefighters at the station is Ward Morton, a firefighter and paramedic for the Denton Fire Department.

Morton has been a firefighter for nine years and has spent the last five working in Denton. His home base is Central Fire Station, but he takes shifts at stations across town.

Capt. David Boots of Station No. 3 said that some firefighters regularly hop from station to station when additional firefighters are needed.

“Whoever is lowest in seniority at their station will be sent to where the need is,” Boots said.

Morton said that while the location may change, the job is the same. He is scheduled for a 24-hour shift and then 48 hours off.

He said his typical shift starts at 8 a.m. Vehicle assignments for the day are given out, and Morton learns if he will be riding in the ambulance or the fire engine when a call comes in. Denton County requires all firefighters to be as equally skilled as paramedics.

Both fire and medical equipment is checked every day. After the mandatory maintenance routines, the daily events vary.

Morton said the department is active in the community, and the station often takes part in activities.

“October is Fire Prevention Month,” he said. “So we go to schools to do demonstrations, and lately there’ve been a lot of students coming by to take tours.”

Morton said Station No. 3 receives an average of 10 calls a day from the dispatch center requesting help in the immediate area.

“Your heart rate goes up depending on what type of call it is,” he said. “We have a pretty good idea from listening to the radio if it’s actually going to be a working fire, whether it’s going to be a serious medical call or not.”

Morton said 80 percent of all incoming calls strictly require medical services, and only 10 percent of those calls are true emergencies.

He said that though he has gotten used to throwing on his safety gear at a moment’s notice, there is no predicting what he will encounter on scene.

“Some days you get surprised,” he said. “You walk in thinking it’s a seizure, and they’re dead. No two calls are the same.”

Morton said many of his fellow firefighters spend their time away from the station working part-time jobs, such as operating dry-cleaning businesses, running cattle or hanging Christmas lights. Morton works part time as a firefighter in Aubrey.

He also has an interest in hunting and tattoos. He has a colorful tattoo of the Maltese cross on his right shoulder, the universal image symbolizing the honor of firefighters.

Morton said that while it can sometimes be stressful, there is no other job he would rather have.

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