This week's featured firefighter is Dean Yauger, the Assistant Chief of the Boonville Fire Department. He's a strong advocate for firefighter cancer awareness, as well as being a firefighter as both a full-time career and volunteering.

Dean Yauger has been a firefighter since 1989, and has spent all his years firefighting at the Boonville Fire Department. For Dean, firefighting runs in his family, and that's what got him first interested in doing it. His father was a firefighter and so was his brother. Dean also says he thinks every kid dreams about being a firefighter, so that added to his wanting to be involved at the fire station.

A question we've been waiting to ask for many weeks, we finally had the chance to ask Dean because he is both a volunteer firefighter and does firefighting as his career (aka, gets paid of it): What's the difference between a volunteer firefighter and a paid firefighter?

 The difference is I get a paycheck. We still have to do the same training. Obviously with my job, I spend a little more time there, you know, around the clock. But that's it. We get paid. We still wear the same gear, drive the same trucks, fight the same fires...

Dean went on to say there is a different "image" because you're in a uniform and not necessarily on the volunteer side would you wear a uniform every day. But again, those are the only differences between being a paid firefighter and a volunteer firefighter.

We asked if he thinks it's disrespectful for a volunteer firefighter to call it their "job," to which he replied, "not at all." He went on to explain all the training hours that it takes to become a firefighter, and all the hazards they have to deal with. You can hear the more in-depth explanation in the video (at the top of this page).

Dean also tells us about a memorable moment he's had in all of his years as a firefighter. He says there are so many moments, and not a day goes by where something doesn't happen, but one that really stuck out for him was...

the day my son joined the department... I think that stands out the most... To have him come along behind me, and he's never said 'I want to be just like you dad,' but just his presence kind of speaks that. I'm pretty proud of my kids.

What a great moment! We can just imagine the joy and pride Dean feels, knowing his son is following in his footsteps. And Dean tells us that's something his son wanted to do on his own.

On that same note, his son Zackary was actually the one to nominate him for "Firefighter Friday," and had some wonderful things to say about his father. But one of the things he mentioned in the nomination form was that his dad "has been a strong advocate like many, for firefighter cancer awareness."

It's only become apparent in the last 5 to 10 years, the cancer dangers tied with firefighting. They're now finding out that all the gear that firefighters are wearing, that is exposed to all those carcinogens, continue to give off toxic chemicals up to 24 hours after being exposed. That means that gear that may be in the backseat of a car or that comes into a firefighter's house, is still toxic and can cause cancer. Dean does his part to educate other firefighters at other fire stations about these dangers. They're also working on spreading the word on preventive measures to try to protect more firefighters from being diagnosed with cancer.

For all that Dean does as a firefighter and for his work as a firefighter cancer advocate, we're proud to feature him and recognize him for this week's "Firefighter Friday."

If you know of a firefighter you think deserves recognition for the job they do, you can nominate them to be featured on "Firefighter Friday" at the link below:




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