This week for "Firefighter Friday," we talk to Fred DiStefano about his 31 years of firefighting. He tells us about his interesting start into his firefighting career and a day he'll never forget.

Fred DiStefano is the Assistant Chief at the Frankfort Center Fire Department. Most of the firefighters we've talked to for "Firefighter Friday," have gotten their start at a fire station because they were inspired by a family member who was involved in the fire community. That's not the case for Fred, though. His interest was sparked because of location.

His father owned a gas station across the street from Cavallo's in New Hartford, which is by the New Hartford Fire Department. Fred tells us...

I just thought it was cool every time that there was a call, everyone rushed to the fire house. And I was getting older and spending more time at the gas station, whenever they would have a call, I would go over after they were done and coming back, and getting the trucks back in service, I would wash them. And it was just something I always wanted to do.

We asked Fred why he decided to volunteer at Frankfort Center. He explains he was born and raised in the City of Utica, actually East Utica, which borders Frankfort Center. Apparently, he drove by the fire house when he was about 16 or 17-years-old and saw a "help wanted" sign. He decided to stop in and get an application.

Fred told his cousin that he had filled out and turned in an application for the fire station, and his cousin decided to fill one out, too. They ended up starting out together in their firefighting journey, and now his cousin has been with the Utica Fire Department for the last 30 years, or so.

As for a memorable moment Fred has had in all his years as a firefighter, he mentions that there are so many. He says there are some that he wish he could forget, but will stick with him forever, but there was one he was willing to share with us. About 20 years ago (or so), he went on a medical call where he ended up having to help deliver a baby! He mentions it's not something he would want to do every day, but was definitely a cool experience. Can you imagine?? We've heard before that firefighters never know what to expect when a call comes in, and we can only assume Fred didn't expect to have to deliver a baby that day.

We asked Fred if this is where he thought his firefighting journey would take him. We asked him if he dreamed of being the assistant chief of a fire station when he first signed up. He replied, "No." He went on to say...

I started out as just a normal firefighter, just like everybody else and as time progressed and I learned more, came around more, and did all my training and answered a majority of the calls that we had, I was asked to be a first aid lieutenant... And then went from there to a lieutenant, on the line, and then a little time as captain, then moved up to assistant chief.

Fred also tells us about the closeness, the "brotherhood" of being a firefighter. He explains it as his "second family," and mentions sometimes he sees his fellow firefighters more than his own family. And it's not just about having each other's back in an emergency or during a call, it's being there for each other when things are going on in their personal life. And he says they share that bond. It's definitely something hard to express or explain without being in the firefighting community, but you can hear more about this brotherhood in the video (at the top of this page).

For all that Fred does as a firefighter and serving his community, on top of having a full time job and a family, we're proud to recognize him and feature him for this week's "Firefighter Friday."

If you know of a firefighter you think deserves recognition for all they do, you can nominate them for "Firefighter Friday" at the link below. They may be featured on an upcoming segment.




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