Captain Chick’s story is one of the alumni features in the summer issue of Panorama. Look for it in your mail later this month!
Tamara Chick '95, Kinesiology
Captain & Head of Women's Recruitment
Los Angeles Fire Department
The life of a firefighter was not something that Captain Tamara Chick dreamt about as a child. In fact, she was a basketball and volleyball player at Cal Poly Pomona and was well on her way to a coveted biomechanical kinesiology internship when she heard about a Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) recruitment event on the radio. She took down the information for her brother but ended up checking it out for herself.
Within an hour of the event, she was hooked. The idea of a fascinating job with the opportunity to serve her community was all she needed to get her started in the application process.
She entered the fire academy at the age of 23 and soon discovered the skills that made her athletic career a success made for a seamless transition into the fire service - desire, discipline, dedication and hard work.
During the past 14 years, she has completed paramedic school, been promoted to the rank of engineer, and two years ago, earned her captain's badge.
She's had the privilege of being assigned to busy fire stations that have afforded her a variety of experiences and knowledge as she grows daily in her development as a firefighter. All along the way, she's developed dear friendships with her "second family."
"I was sold - and I'm still sold today," she says. "This job has given me more than I could have ever imagined - a great schedule, income and benefits - but more importantly, humanitarian outreach that no other job can provide. Every day I grow a little. Every day is different and exciting."
"What makes a firefighter great is passion - passion for public service and passion for being the best you can be," she adds.
She points out the irony that although she never imagined herself becoming a firefighter, she now heads women's recruitment for the LAFD. Chick believes it gives her a unique perspective on recruitment and allows her to understand women who would not consider this a typical career but could achieve their full potential as firefighters.
Reflecting on her own career path, Captain Chick feels that one of the best pools of candidates available to the fire service today are women in college athletics.
"These women are physically fit, enthusiastic, educated and understand what it's like to be part of a team," she says. "Now we want them to come play for our team, the LAFD."
Aside from female coeds, Chick also focuses her recruitment efforts on military transition centers and non-traditional trades for women such as construction. She recognizes that one of the biggest challenges for women in the fire service is the physical demands, especially upper body strength, so she seeks candidates with the highest potential for success.
During her career, Chick has written a health and fitness course for entry-level firefighters at L.A. Harbor College. She is also part of LAFD's Critical Incident Stress Management Team, assisting her fire department family at home and around the nation in times of crisis.
"I love this job," she says. "It's very much like team sports. All members have their own responsibilities, but they have to work together with the other members of the team to get the job done."
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