Division Chief, City of Columbia Fire Department
JOB DESCRIPTION: Overseeing the Fire Marshals Division, Training Division and the Emergency Medical Services Program.
YEARS LIVED IN COLUMBIA: 19
ORIGINAL HOMETOWN: South Bronx, New York
EDUCATION: Associate’s degree from Columbia College
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Board of directors, Boone County chapter of the American Red Cross; former member of the Cosmopolitan International Luncheon Club.
PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: In November I completed my 17th year with the fire department. I have served as a firefighter, assistant fire marshal, engine company lieutenant, assistant training officer, ladder company captain, shift battalion chief and shift division chief. I responded to the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, as a member of Missouri Task Force 1. I have taught courses ranging from basic firefighting skills to incident management throughout the state. In 2004, I had the opportunity to speak at the International Association of Fire Chiefs EMS Conference, which was my first time speaking at one of the major fire conferences. I maintain certifications as a fire investigator, instructor and paramedic.
A COLUMBIA BUSINESSPERSON I ADMIRE: Jose Linder. Every time you run into him, he makes it a point to say “hello” and to shake your hand. His mother reminded me of my grandmother, and I enjoyed speaking to her in Spanish. I also admire Jose because he is a man of Latin descent who continues to make his mark in Columbia and the Midwest. He inspires me to push forward and reach as far as possible.
WHY I’M PASSIONATE ABOUT MY JOB: It may sound cheesy, but my lifelong dream was to become either a firefighter or police officer. I am fortunate enough to have been given the opportunity to become a City of Columbia firefighter. In the past 17 years I have the helped citizens and visitors of Columbia in times of emergency or when they simply needed an answer to a question. The satisfaction of helping someone is what it’s all about!
IF I WEREN’T DOING THIS FOR A LIVING, I WOULD: Be a professional boxer. My grandfather wanted me to box really bad; I had long reach, but my grandma stopped that idea pretty fast.
BIGGEST CAREER OBSTACLE I’VE OVERCOME: I’m still working on this one; my ultimate goal is to become a fire chief, preferably here in Columbia.
A FAVORITE RECENT PROJECT: A couple of years ago, the Columbia Fire Department hosted the Missouri Valley Division of Fire Chiefs annual conference; I was the planning section chief. We worked on the conference for almost one year. It was a huge success; this success was attributed to all the men and women of the Columbia Fire Department who assisted in this huge undertaking. The City of Columbia was showcased, and everyone had a great time. It was a great feeling!
WHAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THIS PROFESSION: It is very stressful; the types of incidents that firefighters are exposed to at times are difficult to deal with. In this career we tend to keep our emotions to ourselves, which typically is not good for our mental and physical well-being. We look toward each other to get through the tough times.
WHAT I DO FOR FUN: Started to play no-limit poker with my wife and 12-year-old daughter. We try to play at least once during the weekend. We make snacks, turn on the music and have fun. It’s a fun way for Sasha to think about strategy and the odds involved. I must report that I have yet to beat my wife or 12 year old.
FAMILY: Andrea Martin, wife; India Martin, 20, a college student in Chicago; Sasha Martin, 12, a student at Smithton Middle School.
FAVORITE PLACE IN COLUMBIA: The MKT Trail; it’s so relaxing, whether you’re biking, running or walking. Everyone says “hello” or waves as they pass each other.
ACCOMPLISHMENT I’M MOST PROUD OF: Being employed by the City of Columbia as a firefighter 17 years ago.
MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW THAT: I actually dropped out of high school and then received my high school diploma while serving in the U.S. Navy. I now have my associate’s degree from Columbia College and hope to complete my bachelor’s degree soon.