The Madison Fire Department is looking for BYU-Idaho students to join the staff as live-in firefighters.
“We run roughly 5,000 calls a year and we have five full-time employees and one part-time employee daily,” said Ellis Johnston, the captain at Madison Fire. “At night, we bring on BYU-Idaho live-ins.”
There are five potential live-in spots on the team, and this semester they only have four filled.
BYU-I students who are live-in firefighters live in the fire station and their shifts are at night, so it doesn’t interfere with classes.
“They’re very good at working with our schedules,” said Parker Dial, a junior studying exercise physiology.
The shifts for the live-in firefighters run from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., and during those times they can be called out for a response.
“They’re immediate help, their response is in seconds,” Johnston said. “They can hop on that first truck when they’re needed. Other people have to respond from home, and that can take a while.”
The students living at the fire station can be a great asset to the fire department, and the fire department, in turn, can help the students out.
“The need is real for them,” Johnston said. “And it’s a great partnership”
Students who live at the fire station use half of their paid call responses to pay for rent, and the other half goes toward their paycheck. Student firefighters have the opportunity to take more shifts and more responses for extra money, as well as federal assignments during the summer.
On top of paying for living expenses, the Madison Fire Department offers training and chances to increase skills. Every semester they offer an in-house EMT training class.
“Ideally what we’re looking for is some BYU-I students who have done this prior so they can come to Madison Fire with some certification,” Johnston said. “I know they’re out there; we just need to find them, but we also take people starting with nothing.”
He said the fire department is especially looking for students who can put forth the effort and work hard. They need students who can be dual credentialed as both an EMT and a firefighter.
Working at Madison Fire Department can be a stepping stone for students looking to progress in the field. They can also use this experience to launch themselves into a career elsewhere in the country, Dial said.
Being a firefighter is a tough job, it’s really living a life of service, Johnston said. It’s dropping everything to go and help a stranger — to try to make their day a little bit better.
“If you had someone who dropped everything to run and help you, it’s a pretty humbling situation,” Johnston said. “We’re glad to be here, to be able to do just that.”
Crazy things can happen in Rexburg, and the firefighters have seen a lot. They’ve dealt with gunshot wounds, car accidents and infant fatalities, Johnston said.
“It’s tough stuff,” Dial said. “You wouldn’t think that a lot of crazy stuff happens, because it’s Rexburg. But it does.”
The crew at the Madison Fire Department is like a big family, Dial said.
They do Sunday dinners and often have family come to the station. The full-time crew works 48 hours on and 96 hours off. This means that for two days they are in the fire station and away from home.
“It can be hard to be away from family for two days,” Johnston said. “Our kids come here, and they feel like this is home.”
Dial grew up with a firefighter father, and the fire station became his second home when he was growing up. The firefighters learn to rely on each other and become a big family, Dial said.
Johnston said that over 50% of the Madison Fire Department crew are former students of BYU-I. Most of them went through the school and decided to stay in Rexburg and work at the fire department.
“It’s really great for us as students who are looking at going into something like that,” Dial said.
Applications to work for the Madison Fire Department can be found online. Once an applicant fills out the application they can turn it in to the front desk at the fire station and they could be called back for a job interview.