Meet Firefighter Ryan Dostalek
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Where are you stationed?
Station 10 (Troy Drive) on the C shift.
Why did you want to pursue this career?
I graduated college with a degree in journalism and political science, but despite using my degree at a small newspaper I never felt fulfilled. I felt like there was something more I could be part of.
I grew up around people in the emergency services and saw how much joy they got out of going to work. Not only did they have a close bond with their co-workers, they were making a difference in their community. I wanted to be part of that, and a career in the fire service is giving me the ability to do just that.
Why did you want to work in Madison, for the Madison Fire Department?
Ever since making the move to the fire service, Madison has been the department atop my list. Not only did I want to be able to serve the community I spent so much time growing up in and around, I wanted to be part of a department that has an outstanding reputation within the fire service community. It’s one of the most progressive departments in one of the most progressive cities in the country with so many opportunities for growth. Our members are continually encouraged to pursue special training in Hazardous Materials, Lake Rescue, and Technical Rescue. I tested for fire departments in Wisconsin and outside the state, but I knew I wouldn’t feel home unless I was a member of the Madison Fire Department.
What has been the most rewarding part of your experience so far?
By far, the most rewarding experience has been walking across the stage on graduation day and having my wife and son place the Madison Fire Department badge on my chest. It was the culmination of a long journey to becoming a City of Madison firefighter.
What are some of the most memorable experiences you've had since graduating the Academy?
Being in the field for the last four months there has already been numerous moments that will be with me for the rest of my career - from playing kickball with the neighborhood kids to seeing how seamlessly this team of professional firefighters works together on a fire scene. Nothing, however, will top walking into Firehouse 10 on my first day and hanging my turnout jacket on the rig. I get such a feeling of accomplishment seeing my name hanging there every day. It’s been said many times, but I really did win the lottery.
What advice would you give to someone hoping to join the MFD?
First, be yourself. The MFD is made of hundreds of individuals who all bring their own unique perspectives and life experiences to this job. It’s what helps this department successfully handle every run out the door, no matter how complex it may be.
Second, build your mental and physical toughness. This job - and the academy - are both mentally and physically demanding. The more you prepare ahead of time, the more successful you will be when the time comes.
Finally, remember why you started. There will be ups and downs in the hiring process, the academy, and this career. When the hard times strike, remember deep down why you want to be a Madison firefighter, and fight tooth and nail for it. Whatever you do, never ever quit.