Mason Ingram was a recipient of the Awards of Excellence in 2021. We sat down with Mason to see how his first year out of high school is going and how the Awards of Excellence helped him get started with his future plans.
For as long as he can remember, Mason has wanted to be a firefighter.
For as long as he can remember, Mason has wanted to be a firefighter. His grandfather was a volunteer firefighter for Papillion while his father was younger and now his father is an Omaha Firefighter. Mason used his Award of Excellence to continue his pursuit of the Fire Services.
Just this past spring Mason completed his Firefighter 1 Certification and he is also now officially an EMT after completing his course this past fall. He is taking classes at Metro Community College on three of the campuses in the metro area. Along with fire classes, he is taking his general eds. He got a jump start on the process by taking classes in high school at Bellevue West for college credit. He is about halfway through the classes he can take at Metro before transferring to a 4-year college. Mason anticipates he will attend UNO in the future where he will pursue a degree in Emergency Management or Fire Protection.
Mason participated in the Tri-County Fire Explorers program that the First Responders Foundation supports.
He is thoroughly enjoying his classes and getting closer to fulfilling his dream. Mason participated in the Tri-County Fire Explorers program that the First Responders Foundation supports. The Tri-County Fire Explorers is a program for youth from 16-19 years who are interested in fire services. The program runs for 11 weeks on Saturday mornings and meets at different fire stations in the metro area. Mason tells us the program really gives you a feel for what it is like to be a firefighter. The students have an opportunity to use all the gear including SCBA (Self-contained breathing apparatus). Mason enjoyed meeting people from all backgrounds in the class and also meeting all the fire-fighting professionals that participate and help facilitate the program.
During the Tri-County program, Mason especially enjoyed learning all of the histories of each department. Some departments started as volunteer and turned to paid programs and some are still volunteer departments. He has a lot of respect for all firefighters and an extra layer of appreciation for those who are volunteers as they have to balance being a volunteer with a full-time job. He also enjoyed all of the stories that were shared during the program about fires that were fought and lessons that were learned.
Fire Services runs in the blood of Mason’s family
Mason is working while he is attending school. He is employed at a family business, Associated Fire Protection. Keeping it all in the family the business is owned by his uncle. Mason is working on fire extinguishers doing the hydrostatic tests, refilling the extinguishers, pressurizing them, and also learning to inspect hood systems. He is even doing some traveling for the company. The company also installs fire alarms systems, sprinkler systems, and hood systems for companies, industries, and schools around the Midwest.
Mason’s father, Toby, has been with OFD for over 22 years. He started with the Papillion Fire Department when they were a volunteer department. He worked as a paid firefighter with Papillion as well before moving to OFD. Mason said it was challenging sometimes having a dad as a firefighter and having him away from home so often. He said that he and his dad have become closer with Mason taking these classes. Mason is learning to relate to some of what his father is experiencing. He says his father is someone he has always looked up to. They have a lot to talk about and he respects the advice that he receives from his dad. Toby has always had a part-time job while being a firefighter. Mason describes him as a hard worker who is always there for the family. He is a good example as he desires to help people and give back to others.
Mason is following in his father’s footsteps to be there for others and to serve them on some of their toughest days. Mason’s passion is being there for other people and helping them. He wants to support and encourage people letting them know that they will be okay, that they are not alone, and that first responders are there to help. Mason says he believes his calling is having a purpose to serve others and the community as a whole. At the First Responders Foundation, we see this as coming full circle. First Responders who are there for the right reasons. They serve and give because they want to make a difference in society, and they do.
Testing to become an Omaha Firefighter
Now that he has completed his EMT class Mason is eligible to test to become a firefighter. Recently Mason took the written test to be hired as an Omaha Firefighter. Once he passes the written test he will move to the CPAT – Candidate Physical Ability Test. This is a national physical ability test for firefighters. After passing the CPAT it will be on to oral boards.
Whether or not he is hired now Mason will continue with his schooling. His mom and dad have been insistent about him finishing his degree. He is self-motivated and a hard worker and if given the chance to be a firefighter he will continue taking classes during his off time. He is very much looking forward to being hired as a firefighter and attending the academy.
Awards of Excellence
The Awards of Excellence are awarded to students like Mason who make a difference in their communities, in their schools, and in their families. Mason has volunteered with Buddy Baseball at Werner Park, an annual event for children with Down syndrome. The children have a chance to experience an at-bat at home plate while their name is announced and projected on the big screen. Mason also volunteers at the Victory Apartments, a homeless shelter for Veterans, and at other Veterans’ services and homeless shelters. He is extremely thankful for the men and women who serve our country and sacrifice for the sake of others.
Mason thanks the Awards of Excellence Committee for selecting him for the Awards of Excellence 2021. He is very grateful for the assistance that helped him get started toward his dream job and following in his father’s footsteps. We are honored and proud to support Mason and other students like him. We wish Mason all the best in his pursuit of Fire Services and we are thankful that people like Mason want to serve our communities.
Mason is now a Firefighter with the Ralson Volunteer Fire Department
There has been a new development since we first spoke to Mason in the middle of December. Mason has been brought on as a member of the Ralston Volunteer Fire Department. He is very excited to start gaining experience within the fire and EMS services and he is looking forward to gaining relationships with other individuals that share the same passion and goals. Congratulations, Mason!
Application for the 2022 Awards of Excellence will be available soon. All graduating seniors who have a parent who is a first responder in Sarpy, Douglas, or Pottawattamie Counties are eligible to apply.