A day in the life: Fire Chief Kyle Upchurch

From Issue 6


Graphic by Alex Roberson

When people think of the word firefighter, they envision people pouring out of the bright red truck and instantly hosing down the building engulfed in flames; what they don’t know is that there is much more to the job than putting out fires. Kyle Upchurch is the Division Chief for the City of Flowood Fire Department and has been a part of the team for fourteen years. He gave us an insight into what a day in the life of a firefighter is.

Chief Upchurch putting out a fire with his department. Photo courtesy of Kyle Upchurch

Starting the morning bright and early, the first task to do is going through the equipment. The crew checks that all the engines, trucks, personal gear, and radios are accounted for and operational. Chief Upchurch mentioned that the team is a proactive training department, “every day we have some topic or category that we train on and make sure we sharpen them because the public deserves that our guys are squared away and ready to go.”

A firefighter never knows when they’ll receive a call, so it makes it challenging to attempt to eat three meals a day or get a full night’s sleep. “Our standard shift four our combat division guys, which are the ones that ride the truck, work twenty-four hours on and forty-eight hours off; it’s a rotating three-day schedule.”

The most common calls they receive on the job is dealing with emergency medical calls and motor vehicle accidents. “With the advancement in alarm systems and fire protection systems, we don’t fight as many fires as we used to.” However, the calls they do on putting out fires are even more dangerous because of how fast they spread and harmful chemicals. 

Being a firefighter is not for the faint of heart, as you must meet specific requirements, pass a physical agility test, and face numerous training camps. The Flowood fire department has a training building on the grounds, where they have held a six-week introductory course for the Fire Academy and have also been taught dive, trench, fire, confined space, hazmat, trauma course, and EMS rescue training. The department ensures on keeping firefighters up to date on the latest protocols so they are prepared for different situations.

Chief Upchurch explains that the sense of brotherhood and the camaraderie from the department makes the job worthwhile and has tight relationships with members of the community. His advice for anyone wanting to pursue a career as a firefighter is never to stop learning and have attention to detail. “From the day they walk through the door till the day they leave, they are always trying to learn something. It may be something that makes them a little bit faster on a rescue, a little bit longer in the fire; it all counts.”