By: Value News | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: March 2022
Wade Ambrose, photo courtesy of the City of Broken Arrow
Provided by the City of Broken Arrow
"Helping people every day and getting to run into burning buildings, that's exciting," said Broken Arrow Firefighter Wade Ambrose. "That's my kind of job!"
Ambrose just completed the Oklahoma Smoke Diver program and became the first Smoke Diver for the Broken Arrow Fire Department and one of only 50 in the state. The Oklahoma Smoke Diver Program is a 501 (C) non-profit organization based on the original Georgia Smoke Diver Program.
The Broken Arrow City Council recognized Ambrose at their meeting on March 21. There are three state programs of this kind throughout the United States, and Oklahoma is in its second year. Twenty-two firefighters started this year's program and only 11 finished the course.
"I'm really proud of his efforts in this nationally recognized program," said Broken Arrow Fire Chief Jeremy Moore. "They spend six days, 10-12 hours per day in rigorous physical and mental exertion similar to boot camp."
Moore said the program prepares firefighters to save themselves and others if they should find themselves trapped or injured in a fire situation.
Ambrose has been with BAFD since 2017 and earned his Paramedic Certification, Instructor II certification, Rescue Specialist certification, and numerous other certifications through Oklahoma State University's Fire Service Training, Oklahoma State Fire School, and the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC).
Ambrose played college baseball and missed the comradery and training atmosphere he'd grown accustomed to with sports. He enjoys the outdoors and working with his hands, so firefighting was a good career fit.
"Broken Arrow kind of took a chance on me, which I can't thank them enough," he said. "I think of that every day when I show up for work, and I need to prove myself and continue working on getting better."
Achieving the Smoke Diver Certification is a goal Ambrose had set for himself two years ago, but COVID protocols got in the way. He continued to train and knew it would happen one day. The firefighter says preparation is essential. He and others from the Tulsa Fire Department trained together every day for 16 weeks before starting the Oklahoma Smoke Divers program.
"Physically, it's one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life," he said. "The class is hard, but you beat the class in the months leading up to it with the physical preparation."
The Smoke Diver training focuses on endurance.
"It's not designed to get you stronger physically, and it's not punishment," he said.
The training teaches firefighters to think through challenging situations when their bodies want to quit.
"You'll find some things out about yourself that you didn't know before," Ambrose said. "You'll realize you have a lot more in the tank!"
Ambrose is from a large family and is a first-generation firefighter and says this training is making him a better person.
"It kind of transfers over to your life," he said. "I think it's made me a better husband, dad, son, and brother."
Ambrose is a father to one-year-old son Walker and husband to Kyndal. He's thankful for his family's support throughout his preparation to become a smoke diver.
"I hope my one-year-old son follows in my footsteps and becomes a firefighter one day," he said.
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