Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a "voice from the little box." I've "worked" for CALFIRE (known as CDF back in the day) ever since I can remember. My dad was a Division Chief out of Pilot Rock Conservation Camp and would come home in his pickup truck.
Usually around 5:30pm every night, I could expect see him pull up to his parking space in front of our house. I would run out there to welcome him home. I'd usually hop in the passenger side as he was telling the voice from the little box, "San Bernardino, 6506, 10-10". Then he'd hand me the hand-held microphone and let me hang it up on the little hook. That was my big job and I did it well.
I would wonder who that voice from the little box belonged to. I remember the first time he took me to the command center to finally meet the voice from the little box. I was in awe of all the buttons and lights and stuff. Of course, it took willpower not to touch all the buttons to see what they were for.
Growing up, I would love to hear fire stories from my dad and his friends. The love they expressed for their jobs with this department was absolutely contagious. I wanted to be a part of that. Since I dislike the outdoors and appreciate the invention of climate control, I followed my dream of being the voice from the little box.
After high school and two years of junior college, I applied for dispatcher jobs everywhere. CHP hired me in 1995. That is where I intended to continue my career but when I became pregnant with my son, I took a year off with the baby and one year turned into two before I decided to go back to work in 1998. CALFIRE hired me at South Ops as a reinstated employee (LT). It was a perfect match that allowed me to be a full-time mom all winter long till 2009 when I became a year-around Com Op.
I encourage all my fellow voices from the little box to keep in mind those future Com Ops that might be listening to you from their dad's pickup truck.