By Charlotte Caldwell
SIDNEY – As part of the periodic interviews the Sidney Daily News conducts with the Sidney Fire Department, we will be interviewing members of the department. This time B-Crew Senior Firefighter Wes Goubeaux was interviewed.
Goubeaux, of Houston, has worked for Sidney Fire for almost 25 years. He started his career as a volunteer for Russia Fire right after he graduated and he worked at both departments at the same time for about 10 years. Goubeaux told a story about how he came to want to be a firefighter when he was a kid after his first two career choices didn’t work out.
“It was probably my third pick. When I was a little kid, growing up in Russia, my grandma and grandpa lived on the other side of town. They had cable, we didn’t, so I’d ride my bike over there and watch old Westerns with my grandpa. So I thought I wanted to be a cowboy. Well then I found out I was born in the wrong century for that,” Goubeaux said. “Then I would ride my bike over there and watch baseball games and I thought ‘I’m gonna be a major league baseball player.’ Well that didn’t work out either, so third pick was fire service. When I was a little kid there was a show called Emergency… that was on before kindergarten, so I would watch that, and when that was over the bus would pick me up, and I would remember telling my mom ‘I’m gonna be a firefighter someday.’”
Goubeaux said his favorite part about the job is, “You could say you do the same thing every day, but it’s not, it’s something different; every fire is different, every medical call is slightly different, so it’s not monotonous.
Twenty-five years has flown by here. I think part of that is because you’re not doing the same thing every day. There’s a lot of diversity and the group that you work with brings a lot of diversity. I’m sure it’s true of any employer, any occupation; you have all these different personalities and backgrounds all coming together, meshing here together to do a job. Every time that alarm goes off you have no idea what that’s gonna be.
There’s an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure), a protocol on how to handle basic situations, but then above and beyond that, you have to kind of make those decisions on the fly because not everything fits into that protocol. So there’s a lot of problem solving and I think that makes it interesting.”
His favorite part about Sidney Fire specifically is, “I like my coworkers. It’s a good group of guys. Especially as I’ve gotten older here, it becomes like you’re more of like a father figure… I watch them (new recruits) come in kind of starry-eyed and a little bit scared, because they’re doing some pretty grown-up stuff, and then to watch them after their first maybe serious car crash, or their first actual structure fire, or maybe first serious medic call, and you see they got it, they understand now, or you get to see them use their skills and problem solve and make decisions, and that’s pretty neat. I mean it’s almost like watching your children be successful and accomplish their goals.”
He also mentioned the changes he’s seen in the fire service recently.
“There’s definitely a change in fire service at like a national level where kind of this revamping I think of trying to make it like a white-collar occupation instead of a blue-collar. Pushing education maybe more, instead of skills and knowledge and experience.
You see a lot of, on the national level, talking circuits and pushing books and that kind of stuff. I don’t necessarily see the wisdom in that; trying to rebrand the fire service and I don’t think we need that. There’s always gonna be fires, there’s always gonna be emergencies, and there’s always gonna be someone that physically does that, and no matter how much education you have, that piece of paper on the wall, that’s not gonna accomplish those tasks.
Also I would say the lack of respect for uniform. When I was a little kid, if it was a mailman, the UPS guy, anyone wearing uniform, they said something and you respected them and listened to them, and over my career here, especially on the law enforcement side, just that lack of respect for a badge, for authority, that’s troubling to me, especially on the law enforcement side. That and abuse of the 911 system… Over 25 years it seems like there’s no penalty for that anymore, just some of the absurd things we get called for.
You take a group of individuals, whether it’s police or fire, and they’ll respond to these emergencies that could be life or death, and they don’t care what color you are, what nationality you are, what your sexual orientation is, what your economic situation is, they’ll put their life on the line in a split second for a stranger. I just feel like there’s not enough respect given to them for doing that.”
Overall, Goubeaux said, “It’s been a very rewarding, enjoyable career. I’m glad I picked it. There’s pros and cons to it, there’s negatives to it, but overall it’s been a good run. I’ve enjoyed my time here; it’s flown by. My best friends work here; guys that I’ve worked with for 20 or 25 years. Some of these guys are my best friends, so no regrets from the occupation standpoint.”
In his personal life, he and his wife of 26 years have five children and one grandchild. They both graduated from Russia High School and his kids currently attend Russia schools. Goubeaux also attended Sinclair Community College.
The Sidney Daily News conducts a periodic interview to update readers with news from the Sidney Fire and Emergency Services Department, 222 W. Poplar St., Sidney.