Jeremy Trutch, 37, recently gave up his career as a financial planner to become a full-time fire truck. “It’s a dream come true,” Trutch said. “My parents, my guidance counselor, and ICBC said it could never happen, but look at me now.” At the beginning of this year, Trutch was newly-divorced and depressed. “I needed an outlet,” said Trutch. “My work wasn’t satisfying, so I asked myself what I really wanted to do—and when I was a kid, that was to be a big red fire engine.”
Trutch enrolled in Camosun College. “There wasn’t really a program to become a truck, so I chose a few classes I thought might steer me in the right direction.”
First, he took vocal lessons. “It took me a while to get the ‘weeeWOOO’ sound loud enough for other drivers to pull out of the way,” Trutch said. He also took Russian literature. “I thought if I could make it through Dostoevsky, sitting in a garage for days waiting for a fire would be a cinch,” Trutch said.
Then, Trutch supplemented his interdisciplinary diploma in fire truck studies with a gym membership. “I did a lot of core-strengthening exercises—’cause if you’re going to carry three or four guys and a few hundred gallons of water, you better be ripped,” Trutch said. “A lot of the guys got mad that I spilled water all over the exercise balls, so I started putting lids on my training buckets.”
Trutch then signed up as a volunteer firefighter. “The guys were skeptical at first when I asked to carry them around,” Trutch said. “But once we became friends, I started running around the fire hall with Steve and Greg on my shoulders all the time.”
Trutch responded to a real emergency for the first time in October. “The full-time fire truck wouldn’t start,” Trutch said. “So I grabbed the emergency light off the top, strapped it to my head, and off we went.” Trutch is careful to point out that he takes firefighting very seriously. “But it was also the most fun I’ve ever had,” Trutch said.
Once he became a volunteer fire truck, Trutch’s next hurdle was getting a full licence. “When I went in for a road test, the driving examiner was super confused,” Trutch said. The examiner told Trutch that he was impressed with his ability to point out potential hazards, which most trucks cannot do. However, since Trutch did not have an engine, wheels, or a stainless steel body, he was not actually a truck.
“I was super depressed,” Trutch said. “I found my life’s calling, and I wasn’t allowed to do it full time, because I don’t have an internal combustion engine. It was pure discrimination.” At that point, Trutch garnered media attention as his fellow firefighters protested ICBC’s refusal to grant him truck status. Pressure from local media caused ICBC to reconsider. “I will always remember the examiner saying, ‘Whatever, man,’ and rolling her eyes as she passed over my licence,” Trutch said. “It was a special day.”
Trutch quit his job as a financial planner, and moved into the fire hall. He quickly realized that fire trucks don’t get paid, even if they operate full time. “I thought I made a huge mistake,” Trutch said. Luckily, the media attention Trutch received brought with it extra perks. “I got a book deal and a reality show,” Trutch said. “So it was totally worth it.”
Fire Trutch airs this March on Discovery Channel.