03/07/2009: "SJI Firefighter Of Month"
Francis G. Smith
Where were you born? Paisley, Scotland, a long, long time ago.
Familial status (married/kids/pets): Married to Rebecca K. Smith (“Blondie”). No kids (forgot), two tomcats -one Siamese and one orange tabby (Charles and Darwin)
Name a favorite food/music/team/show etc.? Mashed potatoes, Rock and Roll -particularly AC-DC, Pink Floyd, Springsteen, Emmylou Harris etc.
What kind of hobbies do you have? Naturalist, writing, watercolors, reading, sailing boats, hauling our travel trailer around the NW.
What is your day job? What is the most interesting job you’ve held? Retired!!! Most interesting job -developing new drug for rheumatoid arthritis. Most fun job -charter boat skipper in Friday Harbor.
What brought you to SJI? 20 years ago -while cruising on our sailboat. We decided this was the place, so we quit our corporate jobs, sold our house in Redmond and lived on our boat in various places around the island.
What area do you live in? Cape San Juan
What do you like about living on SJI? It’s an island! Small town living. Volunteer fire and EMS. The natural surroundings. It’s all great!
What do you find is the hardest part about living on SJI? The ferries cost too &^%$#@! much.
What comes to mind when you hear “Only on SJI…”? Carpooling from the Cape to Roche Harbor.
What is your position/job within the department? It seems to vary a lot. I’ve been every rank (some twice) from basic firefighter all the way to Battalion Chief. I’m currently a Captain of Stations 32 and 33 and (as the Chief says,) I’m the glue that holds the heavy and rope rescue team together -not sure what he means by that….
When and Why did you join the fire department? Was pressured/threatened by even older neighbors at the Cape in 1995.
What do you like best about the department? The volunteers and the big red trucks. My main interest is the rescue team and our work with our EMT colleagues, taking care of folks who have been in a vehicle accident.
What has been your most exciting event since joining the department? I think most firefighters remember the intense excitement of the first time they are inside a house which is actually on fire (“This is nuts!”). I also can remember every instant of the first time I felt that I didn’t know the way out of a burning building (happened to be a training fire). “Exciting” may be the wrong term in this case.
What did you find the hardest Fire Fighter skill to learn? Hazardous materials and biohazard lectures -- ick. Gives me nosebleeds and reduced levels of consciousness just listening to this stuff. It’s also very difficult to show up on scene and put on a confident face for frantic citizens who may be having the worst day of their lives.
Do you have other volunteer activities? I’m an EMT with San Juan EMS.
Describe your ideal day off: Rummaging around the beaches and the woods with a notebook and binoculars and my watercolor paints.
What are you most proud of? Charles, my Siamese tomcat can open most unlocked doors.
What would you like on your epitaph? Eccentric but harmless enough. Often seen with piles of books, butterfly net and emergency services radio. How did Rebecca put up with him all those years?