Gustine Fire Department honors volunteer Prado
GUSTINE – Volunteer fireman Jesse Prado was honored recently as the Gustine City Fire Department’s Firefighter of the Year. The Gustine resident joined the local department in 2008 after moving from Hollister about 10 years ago.
Prado said he had hoped to pursue a career as a firefighter when he was younger, but that path didn’t develop for him at the time so when the opportunity was given to him to become a volunteer firefighter he didn’t hesitate to begin the six-month training program.
Prado works full time as a sales representative for Frito Lay out of Gilroy so his choice meant dedicating evenings after work and weekends to his new commitment and having less to devote to anything else, including family time.
“My wife (Lupe Prado) and three children have been a huge support to me,” the grateful firefighter acknowledged. Being a volunteer with the department has meant walking away from the dinner table, sometimes in the middle of conversations,” Prado described. His family has been supportive of his decision to join the department and the demands that responsibility places on his time.
“There are evenings when you just want to come home from work and relax, you’re ready to stretch out for the day and then a call comes in the middle of the night and you go,” he explained. “It can be difficult but in the end it’s worth it to be part of the solution.”
Being “part of the solution” is a mantra for Prado which drives his choices.
“If there is something to be done, I will tackle it,” he expressed. He enjoys bringing people together to resolve an issue or tackle a problem, and he believes in teaching by example, which he puts into practice as one of three training captains for Gustine Volunteer Fire Department.
Prado is the guy who sits in the front row with his hand raised with questions and answers during a training session. He then eagerly shares the new information with his fellow volunteers.
His enthusiasm for learning was reflected by his designation as a training captain in just his second year with the department.
In that capacity he helps set up for training incidents, extrication drills, EMS training, structure and wildland fire training.
He also helps train new volunteers at the academy in Atwater – and is cognizant of the importance of keeping up his own skills as well as passing them on to newcomers.
Prado is a driver-operator and first responder for the Gustine department. He responds to calls when he is available and jumps into whatever role is needed. “It doesn’t matter if I am the guy sweeping up glass or incident commander on the scene. We all work together to get whatever needs to be done,” he explained.
Being a firefighter is not for everybody, Prado noted, as it requires physical and mental strength….and not everyone is able to handle the emergency scenes.
For those who can, the Gustine department is always welcome to new volunteers. “Come ask questions, it doesn’t hurt to try it and see if it’s for you,” he suggested.
Those on the department share close bonds, and collectively represent a wealth of information which is shared with others.
“I have received so much knowledge from the chiefs here and the experiences of long-time volunteers, the support system is strong and the experience is priceless,” he credited.
Prado has dedicated his volunteer time to the fire department after having worked several years helping to organize the youth football program and coaching youth baseball. He loved those years, but said he feels called to be at the fire department and he has made that a priority without regret.
Prado said he plans to be with the fire department for many years to come.
“I am honored to be chosen by my fellow volwunteers (for the award),” Prado expressed. “Although I don’t do it for the award, it feels good that people see what you do for your community.”