Brothers Ready For Firefighting Careers

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 29, 2013

CORNATZER – Jessie Frye didn’t like school. In fact, at age 16, he was even questioning why he continued to go to classes every day.
Then he became a firefighter – a junior firefighter with the Cornatzer-Dulin Volunteer Department. He had always been fascinated as a child when the fire trucks went up and down the road in front of the family’s home.
“It’s what kept me in school,” he said.
One of the requirements of being a junior firefighter is that you remain in school, with a minimum average grade of “C.” “In the junior program, homework and classes come first.”
He graduated from Davie High School.
And now Jessie, 22, along with brother Dustin, 26, are full-fledged firefighters with hazmat certification, having completed an intense, full-time nine-week fire academy in Cleveland County.
They live at the Advance Fire Department along with two other firefighters, taking turns on shifts to answer calls. They also answer calls at their home department, Cornatzer-Dulin.
Dustin joined the fire department a couple of years after Jessie.
“It seemed like he was enjoying it, and I didn’t know who had his back,” Dustin said. “It has helped us out in many, many ways.”
The academy was grueling, but well worth the effort. They are both now looking for jobs as full-time firefighters. It included 8-10 hours of work a day, six days a week. There was one 14-hour day.
“It gets pretty intense when you’re in your gear all day – going in and out of fires all day,” Dustin said. That was on asphalt. In the summer. One of their masks cracked from the heat.
“It was so hot it burned my eyes,” Jessie said. That was on a drill where they learned about fire behavior. Put water on the top, and it transfers the heat down – in the firefighter’s direction.
“It’s a great program and we had a lot of great instructors,’ Dustin said.
“Ever since I started, this has been my dream,” Jessie said. “I put my life on hold for this.” That meant quitting his job just to attend the academy. Dustin was studying to be a paramedic at Western Carolina. He left for the academy, as well.
Dustin set a record for the agility course at the Cleveland academy. He also won the agility challenge at Davie County’s first firefighter’s challenge in September.
The Frye brothers are continuing a family tradition. There is a photo on the wall at Cornatzer-Dulin that includes nine family members on the roster at one time.
They like the cross training they are receiving. Departments generally do things differently – not a right or wrong – just differently. And they are learning how several departments operate.
They see a need for local fire departments to do more training together, so they’re all on the same page when they’re working together during an emergency.