Fighting Fires, with Andy DeMetropolis!
Andy DeMetropolis is a Fire Fighter in Long Beach. Currently, he is working as a Training Captain, where he instructs and trains new recruits!
By Gina V. Ramsey
For many youngsters, the sight of a shiny bright red fire truck inspires excitement and adventure, and maybe a mental scene of rescuing a cat from a tree.
For lifelong Long Beach resident Andrew deMetropolis, the inspiration was a lot more personal.
“While I was in middle school, my oldest brother was training to be a firefighter,” Andrew said. “That’s how I became interested.”
When he was a student at Millikan High School, Andrew participated in the fire explorers post within the Long Beach Search and Rescue program.
“I really liked working with my hands, and the whole team aspect of the job,” Andrew said. “My exposure in search and rescue is what really solidified my decision. I enjoyed the physical and mental challenges.”
The Family Business
Eventually, Andrew took the same route as his big brother. He earned an Associate in Science degree in fire technology from Long Beach City College and then entered the fire academy.
Throughout his years in fire service, Andrew, 43, has been a part of the U.S. Forest Service, Urban Search and Rescue, worked in the city of Downey, the Port of Long Beach Hazmat team, as well as in fire stations in North and Central Long Beach. He is currently assigned as a Training Captain in charge of instructing and testing new recruits and probationary firefighters, among many other duties with the department.
In his almost 18 years with the Long Beach Fire Department, Andrew has experienced those moments that are uniquely somber to first responders.
“We all find different ways to cope,” he said. “Some days, when those rough calls come in, they can sit with me for days. Especially those that trigger me as a dad, those calls that involve kids.”
When he needs to, Andrew might talk things over with his wife Lindsay of 11 years, a nurse at Long Beach Memorial. Or he might find quiet reflection among his two older brothers. Besides the eldest who first became a firefighter, there is another brother between him and Andrew that is also a firefighter. While Andrew is with LBFD, one brother works in the city of Orange and the other in Mid-Los Angeles County.
“We’re all different ranks,” Andrew said. “But we’re all firefighters at heart.”
Long Beach Bred
Being a part of the Long Beach Fire Department has extra special meaning for Andrew who grew up in the city.
“[Long Beach] is a big city with that small town feel,” he said. “People know each other. I have a lot of family ties here.”
Raising his own family in Long Beach continues to grow those roots. The father of four children—ages 2 to 9— enjoys tuning out the workday by just being present with them and Lindsay. His oldest has expressed that one day he’d like to be a firefighter, just like dad, perhaps continuing the family legacy of community service to the city they all love.
“Thank God You’re Here!”
A day in the life of a firefighter can be hard to describe since “everyday can be different.”
“You can be in bed, or eating, or in the shower when that alarm goes off anytime in a 24-hour shift,” Andrew said. “You just don’t know when, but you go.”
When those critical calls come in, it’s the repetitive skills that one trains for over and over that need to kick in automatically.
“We train for those outcomes that we all want, those little everyday successes,” he said. “We just try to do the best we can for our fellow human in that time of desperate need. When someone can say, ‘Thank God you’re here.’”
Fire Training is Life Preparedness
“The road [to becoming a firefighter] can be long, especially the testing process, but keep at it,” Andrew said. “Do what you can, get the good grades. Learning a trade is good, such as plumbing, electricity, construction. They can be helpful. Just don’t get discouraged. Take setbacks as a way to drive you forward.”