The Streator Fire Department has added a new member to its ranks, as Phil Durdan joined the squad on Oct 8.
Durdan, a 23-year-old Grand Ridge native, said pursuing a career as a firefighter wasn't something he thought about until he had been on the village's volunteer fire department for a couple of years.
"This became the path I wanted to follow after I had been on the Grand Ridge Volunteer Fire Department for a couple of years," said Durdan, who joined as soon as he turned 18. "It really started off being something I thought I could do to help my community, but after time, I found I really enjoyed it. That is when I decided to take the next step, and this really became my calling, I guess you could say.
"I work on the family farm with my dad and brother, so I still plan on helping with that on my days off."
According to Streator Fire Chief Gary Bird, the retirement of Captain Tim Bradley back in April created the opening, and he has liked what he has seen from his newest firefighter.
"All candidates had to go through a testing process that is conducted by the Streator Fire and Police Commission where they are ranked, and Phil was No. 1 on the list," Bird said. "He is a very smart guy who works hard and has done a great job already of familiarizing himself with the equipment we have and how things are done."
Durdan said that even with his interest in the profession, it wasn't until earlier this year that he really set his sights on becoming a full-time firefighter.
"I was in a basic operations firefighting class that Streator assisted in teaching, and one of the firefighters that was helping instruct mentioned that they were going to be starting the testing because they make a new list every two years, and there would be a good chance there would be someone hired off that list, and if I was interested I should look into it," said Durdan.
"Every fire department is a team, and everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, but the goal is to all work together, do the best job we can and all go home safe every day. I'm not sure exactly how I will fit in, but I'm sure anxious to find out.
"I'm so excited to be here and thankful for the opportunity I've been given."