Janet and Katie Anderson have a lot in common.
The most obvious is their similar DNA: Janet is Katie’s mother. Both women were both born and raised in Golden, have powerful, positive personalities and feed off the energy of an adrenalin rush.
This, combined with the desire to give back to the community and join another “family” outside of their own, lead both women to become volunteer firefighters with the Golden Fire Department.
Janet is a Special Needs Teacher Assistant for the school district. She describes the volunteer fire department as a “phenomenal second family”.
“I had always wanted to become a volunteer firefighter, and finally I just did it,” she said. “I had an interview, and was accepted in October of last year and have loved it ever since”
Katie graduated from GSS three years ago and is now figuring out what her next step will be. She won the Rookie of The Year award this year, an award based on drive, passion and hard work. The only thing that would hold her back from moving somewhere else, she said, is the Golden Fire Department.
“I love the adrenalin rush when we’re called to a scene. I start to play out the scenario in my head as the captain starts assigning tasks,” said Katie, explaining that she gets incredibly excited on the inside but needs to stay cool and collected on the outside.
Volunteers for the Golden Fire Department are on call all the time. Sometimes three people show up to the fire hall and sometimes almost everyone responds to the call. Volunteers respond to building fires, chimney fires, car fires and vehicle accidents. They meet every Tuesday night for training.
Out of the 33 members, only three are female. That doesn’t seem to matter, though, to Katie, Janet and Karina Van Halen, a lieutenant for the department.
“Being here you’re not a girl, you’re treated exactly the same as everyone else is,” Katie explained. “And, if that starts to change, you just put them in their place,” she continued, laughing.
One of the most challenging parts of the job for Janet is seeing people deal with such loss, whether that be in a personal accident, the loss of a home or something else. Firefighters are well aware of the psychological impact of their work and often carry out debriefing sessions when they return to the hall.
As for working with her mother, Katie admitted that it took a little while to accept Janet as her superior, something she has been challenging her whole life.
“I quickly realized that that’s not even an option here,” said Katie. “You fall into order and listen. If you have to question a superior, you do it very politely.”
Firefighting, according to both women, is a careful balance. The adrenalin of an emergency causes a major increase in energy. It’s all about funneling that energy into the task at hand, which, according to Katie, takes a lot of work
“You really have to use your energy wisely”.
So how long do Janet and Katie plan on firefighting?
“It doesn’t matter where we go,” said Janet, “as long as there’s a volunteer fire department, we’ll be there.”