As Ryan Lock posed for photos in front of a fire apparatus at Fire Station No. 1 on Dec. 28, his fellow firefighters stood off to the side, looking on while cracking jokes with Lock. The companionship runs deep with the firefighters and is one of Lock's favorite aspects of the job, he said.
He received Jefferson City's outstanding employee service award for December for his role as a fire engineer and driver for the Jefferson City Fire Department.
When he's not responding to emergency situations, Lock's day-to-day activities include checking the trucks and equipment on the fire apparatuses to ensure everything is ready for emergency responses, public events and prevention presentations.
The wide range of tasks keeps the job interesting, Lock said.
"You could be out here washing the fire trucks and then two minutes later, you're in a burning house," he said. "You could be down at the river two minutes after washing the trucks, helping somebody with a stalled boat. So, you're doing something new every day, which is neat."
Lock always knew he wanted to be a firefighter. But when he was younger, he didn't know how to pursue the career. Due to a lack of emergency medical technician training and history with the fire department, as well as the difficult tests, Lock turned his attention at that time to a different job — working as a sales representative for Midwest Block and Brick.
About nine years ago, he left sales to pursue his dream job as a firefighter.
"You always hear about the lightheartedness and everyone gets along and there's that locker room type atmosphere. I missed a lot of that," said Lock, who described himself as a jock. "You're getting paid to help people so that's definitely a benefit. It just seemed like a win-win."
While firefighters should have a strong faith and family, Lock said, they should also be able to problem solve quickly and communicate effectively.
"The most important thing is being able to get along with others, not just internally or at the fire department but out in the public," he said. "Communication skills are huge, and some people are in their biggest time of need. We see it all the time so you kind of get complacent with seeing that, so sometimes you've got to slap yourself and be like, 'This isn't a normal situation.' Even though it is kind of a normal for us. You've got to be able to communicate and have those skills."
The job can be challenging, though. Firefighters not only see people during horrible times but they also have long schedules that can cause them to work several weekends and miss holidays and other special events, he said.
When Lock isn't working, he coaches his three daughters' sports teams, plays racquetball, exercises and spends time with his wife and family.