by Lorie Lewis Ham
KRL did several articles last year profiling different aspects of the City of Reedley, including several articles about the Reedley Police Department. This year we are profiling members of the Reedley Fire Department. This is our second interview, this one with Fire Battalion Chief Justin Watson. Justin was born and raised in Reedley and attended Reedley High School.
KRL: Are you full time or volunteer?
Justin: I am full time.
KRL: When did you first know you wanted to be a firefighter and why?
Justin: No desire to be in the fire service, until a family friend asked me at the age of 18 to join Fresno County Fire Department Company 81 paid Fire Company that was in need of new members.
KRL: How long have you been one and how long with Reedley Fire Department?
Justin: May 2020 will be 18 years in the fire service. 16 years with the Reedley Fire Department.
KRL: Wow that’s awesome! What kind of training did you go through?
Justin: State Fire Marshall accredited Firefighter One Academy, EMT Class, additional 1000+ hours of additional miscellaneous trainings.
KRL: What do you like best about being a firefighter?
Justin: The variety of tasks and locations.
KRL: What is the hardest?
KRL: What is a typical day like for you on the job?
Justin: Start the day with returning emails and phone calls, then I usually inspect apparatus and facility for any issues, conduct training, conduct fire/life safety inspections in the community, emergency incident responses as they arise, publish outreach and education. Every day is different and unique in its own way. That is the greatest thing about my job; it is never the same day to day.
KRL: Is there one special moment you would like to share?
Justin: I have been part of the many moments that have forever changed individual and families lives in a positive way.
Justin: Outdoor recreation–hunting, fishing, camping, family time.
Justin: Wife Stephanie, two daughters–Brooke age 4 and Whitney age 6. Two dogs (Labradors) Ruger and Jase.
KRL: Future plans/goals?
Justin: Continue in this career and complete my arson investigator certification.
KRL: Anything else you would like to share?
Justin: I have additionally worked for Fresno County Fire as a paid on call firefighter, United States Forest Service as seasonal wildland firefighter, Cal Fire seasonal firefighter, and Sequoia Safety Council Inc Ambulance Service as an EMT.
I have been deployed to 11 different states on fire related training and incidents.
Hurricane Katrina in Gulf Coast of Florida and Hurricane Rita in Texas (2005) as part of a two-man team deployed from Reedley Fire Department to assist FEMA.
I have been very fortunate to be a part of all these great agencies and given the ability to assist my community as well as many others in their time of need. Many friends have been made and many memories obtained. Being in the Fire Service is a lifestyle commitment. Your friends and family all have to be part of it and support every move you make to be successful.
Watch for many more profiles on Reedley firefighters this year, and you can find even more Reedley articles in our Reedley News section!