Firefighter-EMT Chris Strozier, EMT Lt. Jason Wagner and firefighter-paramedic Robert Ballou test the gear used to pry people out of cars if needed. Photo by Paige Wilson

Scenes from Palm Coast Fire Station 23: Firefighters hit the road in less than two minutes after an emergency call

A day in the life of Palm Coast firefighters includes training, checking gear and pursuing emergency calls.
By: 
Jun. 28, 2018
Lt. Jason Wagner takes off his jacket after returning to Fire Station 23 when a fire alarm call was cancelled mid-route. Photo by Paige Wilson

Just a little over a year into Jason Wagner's career as a firefighter with the Palm Coast Fire Department, the wildfires of 1998 served as a catalyst for his immediate growth as a firefighter.

“I pumped the engine going from house to house, street to street, for almost 72 hours in a row,” Lt. Wagner said. “It was rewarding because we were saving homes, and we were evacuating people out, and we were protecting life and property. So, that was pretty impactful.”

This year is the 20th anniversary of the wildfires that burned down hundreds of homes — the worst natural disaster in Flagler County's history.

Currently, the department has 56 career firefighters, including three that were at Fire Station 23 on Thursday, June 21, for an 8 a.m. to 8 a.m. Friday, June 22, shift: EMT Lt. Jason Wagner; driver and firefighter-paramedic Robert Ballou, who has been with the department since 2008; and firefighter-EMT Chris Strozier, who is five months into his firefighting career after a 16-week training school with the department. 

The Palm Coast Observer documented their day to showcase the bravery of first responders.

Lt. Jason Wagner and firefighter-paramedic Robert Ballou stand by Fire Engine 23. The duo has been partnered together for over five years with the department. Photo by Paige Wilson

 

“It’s very nice. We know each other, so I know what he wants. It makes things go smooth. The majority of the time, I know the direction of what he wants me to accomplish.”

- Robert Ballou, firefighter-paramedic, on his partnership with Lt. Jason Wagner

Lt. Jason Wagner writes notes while firefighter-EMT Chris Strozier and firefighter-paramedic Robert Ballou go through EMS training on a life-like dummy, which breathes and has a pulse controlled by computer. Photo by Paige Wilson

“We go in on every call, and we have to basically prepare for the worst-case scenario, and hopefully it works out better.”

- Robert Ballou, firefighter-paramedic

Lt. Jason Wagner exits Fire Engine 23 after returning to the station when a call for a fire alarm was cancelled mid-route. Photo by Paige Wilson

“When I was younger — it’s kind of an ironic, funny, goofy story — I wanted to be a doctor and a truck driver. So, a firefighter is kind of like both; I play doctor in the field, even though I’m just an EMT. And I did drive the big, red truck at one time. But my uncle was a fireman at FDNY.”

- Jason Wagner, lieutenant firefighter-EMT

Firefighter-paramedic Robert Ballou drives Fire Engine 23 near another engine that arrived on the scene of a fire alarm call in the F-section on June 21. Photo by Paige Wilson

“You know what I take pride in? When you pull up to a scene and people have this worried, scared-to-death look on their face, and you can change that. Whether it’s like a car accident or a medical call, when you get there, and people see the truck pull up, you kind of see the sigh of relief that comes out of them. And a lot of times their frowns, or the worries, go away because we’re there now.” 

- Jason Wagner, lieutenant firefighter-EMT

Firefighter-EMT Chris Strozier sits in the back seat of Fire Engine 23 on the way to a call. Photo by Paige Wilson

“Time is life with us.” 

- Jason Wagner, lieutenant firefighter-EMT

Lt. Jason Wagner helps direct firefighter-paramedic Robert Ballou through traffic during a call. The pair has been assigned to work together for over five years. Photo by Paige Wilson