The Fort Smith Fire Department sent three young men to the fire academy in Camden Sunday. They begin the journey of many men and women who have gone before them, including their fathers who are all active members of the department.
“I’ve wanted to do this since I was four years old,” said Joshua Edwards, son of Capt. David Edwards. “I just never stopped working towards it.”
Driver Mickey Elmore remembers his son, Nathan Elmore, wanted to bring his firefighter uniform and gear to school for show-and-tell when he was a kid.
Josh Christensen, son of Capt. Phil Christensen, said he knew from a young age he wanted to follow in his dad’s footsteps.
Joshua Edwards says he remembers listening to his dad talk with pride about his job. Capt. Edwards shared stories with his son about fighting fires and helping people in the community.
Capt. Christensen says helping people is his favorite part of the job.
“I love to be able to help people,” he said. “We’re fireman, that’s what we do.”
According to Chief Mike Richards, it’s unusual to have this many legacies in the same group, and a lot of things had to fall the right way for the situation to work out this way.
“There was quite a bit of separation on the list in their placement to be hired,” said Richards.
He says Joshua Edwards placed high on the hiring list, but he was passed over several times because he was not yet 21 years old. There were also potential candidates on the list that declined the job offer from the department, so they moved down the list.
Nathan Elmore says he wanted a job that he could be proud of and that gave him purpose. His dad couldn’t be more proud of the career his son chose.
“It’s hard to put into words how you feel right now as a father,” said Mickey Elmore. “I’ve spent 27 years on this job… It’s like a dream.”
As firefighters, these men have seen and will see things only other fireman will understand.
“He’s going to see a lot of things that bring joy, and he’s going to see a lot of things he can’t talk about,” said Capt. Edwards of his son.
The fathers all described a bond, a brotherhood that develops between firefighters.
“Unless you’re part of it, it’s hard for other people to realize what it’s all about,” said the elder Elmore. “I’m glad (Nathan)’s going to be part of that now.”
The legacies will spend ten weeks at the fire academy where they’ll go through intense physical training and education on fire fighting procedures.