Fire Capt. Malcolm Dicks is in charge of Los Angeles County Fire Station 125, in Calabasas, California.
A paramedic as well as a firefighter, Dicks didn’t wait until after graduation to decide on a career. “I knew this was my calling between my freshman and sophomore years, when I changed my major from engineering to biology.”
After his LMU graduation, Dicks began his service by training to be a paramedic for two months at Station No. 34 in Crenshaw with the L.A. City Fire Department. There he met Fire Capt. Larry Croghan ’80. “He really helped me. He took me aside and said, ‘Look, you need to be a fireman in addition to being a paramedic. You’re made for this job.’ ”
Dicks says what he likes most about his job is how it changes from day to day. “I never know what we’re going to go into: a brushfire, a high-rise fire, or I may fly in a helicopter, deliver a baby, or save a grandfather from a heart attack. The service portion of the fire department’s work is what I like the most.”
Watch Malcolm Dicks ’94 talk about his path from LMU student to county fire captain here.
- We use wooden ladders because wood doesn’t conduct electricity. You can’t get shocked if a power line comes down. This one weighs 110 lbs. and is designed for one person.
- The rotary saw is used for forceful entry. This isn’t the Jaws of Life saw, but it will cut through doors and bars on windows to rescue people, and it can cut through a car door.
- The silver canister is an extinguisher that holds two and a half gallons of water. The “can man” on an engine uses it before we’ve stretched a water line to a fire. A good can man can put out a room fire with that.
- The long black pipe is a suction hose that’s especially useful in California. If our water sources are down in an earthquake, we can put it in a pond or a backyard pool and suck the water into a pump on the engine.
- We’re all required to carry a flashlight, which we use to see at night or within smoke. It also emits a strobe, so if you fall or are injured, it will signal to the others that you’re hurt.