A passion for service

Gerow plans to take his fight to the fire


AsiaLee Donnelly

After suiting up, attaching and firing the hose to save the victim, senior Lucas Gerow runs up four flights of stairs and raises the weight. His teammates cheer him on as he ties the final knot and races off to the endpoint where he quickly jumps out of his uniform and the time is called. All eyes turn to Cody Stocker who controls the stopwatch and he calls out the time: 8:17.

Gerow had successfully completed his second attempt at the combat challenge as a part of his firefighting class, a feat which took others an average of 15 minutes, in eight minutes and 17 seconds. Furthermore, he beat his original time by over a minute.

“I was just trying to beat my old record [and thinking about] all the things that I could mess up on and things I could’ve done better. The first time I went through it I noticed there were a lot of things I messed up on that I could’ve improved on… I was just thinking about all the little things that add up in the end,” Gerow said.

Gerow has been participating in the intra-district Fire Service Technology program, offered by Lynnwood High School, for the past two years. During his time in the program he has received hands-on experience and training to prepare him for his target career as a professional firefighter.

Gerow has completed units including search and rescue, equipment training and combat challenges. Students also obtain their CPR Pro and First Aid certification.

According to Gerow, the program provides students with their own engine and training tower, giving them experience they normally wouldn’t receive until they were training on the job or going to an academy.

The program is taught by Fire Commissioner Jim McGaughey of Snohomish Fire District No. 1.

McGaughey commented that it is not an easy course because the students participate in demanding training. The coursework is similar to what students in academies and professionals must complete.

You’re constantly having to improve yourself and you’re constantly going on calls and it’s always something new every day. I really like that, it’s exciting.”

— Lucas Gerow

Gerow has not only excelled in the course and proved himself to be a competent firefighter, but he has also become a leader in his company. He has served as his chief’s assistant for the past year and continually motivates the other members, according to McGaughey.

“He is full of energy, he’s fun, he gets along with everybody. He adds another element to it, and that is that he is very focused, very dedicated and he doesn’t just help his own company, he helps the whole class… He gets into just being that guy that everybody can look up to,” McGaughey said.

Gerow proved to be a role model for the other members of the class when he completed the combat training exercise in record time, finishing in nine minutes and 47 seconds his first try and eight minutes and 17 seconds his second try.

“The challenge is not only physically demanding, but mentally demanding as well,” McGaughey said.

To complete the combat-training exercise, Gerow first had to put on full firefighting gear which weighs roughly 45 pounds. He then carried the 70-pound hose from the truck to a nearby fire hydrant, where he connected the hose and opened the hydrant. Afterward, he ran back to the truck to grab the hose and carry it to the firing spot where he had to aim and fire the hose to knock over a cone.

“The hardest part is most people don’t position the hose correctly on their shoulder which makes it hard to carry and maneuver,” Gerow said.

Once the cone was knocked over, he ran to its place 60 feet away where there was a 175-pound dummy which he had to carry back to where he fired the hose. Next, he carried another hose up four flights of stairs where he dropped it, went down one flight to raise and lower a weight before returning to the top floor to retrieve the hose and carry it back down to ground level.

He then ran to a hose 20 yards away which was rolled up and proceeded to unroll it correctly on the first try. This proved not to be an easy feat, as a teammate who ran the course previously took 30 seconds to correctly unroll it.

Immediately he ran back over to the stairs where he was required to tie two knots: a bowlin and a figure eight follow through. Lastly, he ran back to his starting point where he jumped out of all his gear and the timer stopped.

Through the entire course, McGaughey was by his side encouraging him while his teammates watched and cheered him on.

“[Gerow] is kind of like a buddy to me, you know like a son,” McGaughey said.

Even after beating his previous time, Gerow was still thinking of the areas he could improve in the future.

While Gerow now knows that he wants to become a firefighter, it was not always his focus. It wasn’t until a friend recommended the Fire Service Technology program and he enrolled that he found his passion.

Gerow said he enjoys both the purpose and challenge the job provides. He was also drawn to fire fighting due to its flexible structure and constantly changing atmosphere, which he said will keep him on his toes.

“You’re constantly having to improve yourself and you’re constantly going on calls and it’s always something new every day. I really like that, it’s exciting,” Gerow said.

He said his favorite part of the program and being a firefighter is search and rescue, although he also likes going on medical calls and helping people.

For search and rescue, Gerow goes into a drill with his whole company in full gear: masks, air packs and a Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA). As part of the simulation, their masks are blacked out and they are sent into cluttered rooms with the objective of finding and removing a 175-pound dummy.

This routine builds communication skills as well as memory, as they must first navigate their way through the room and then remember how to quickly and safely exit the room, blind.

In addition to firefighter training, the team has also completed volunteer work to help the community under McGaughey’s encouragement. For instance, the students raised more than $9,000 in a single day to provide families with food on Thanksgiving.

Gerow said McGaughey has become his mentor over the past two years.

“He’s more than just a teacher to most of us…He really motivates us and pushes us,” he said.

Fire Service Technology program has instilled in Gerow a new motivation and drive to be the best he can in order to help his community and the people he serves.

Gerow is planning on going to Alaska for college and attending the University of Alaska Anchorage for its nationally renowned fire fighting program. Along with his studies, he will be working at a fire station just outside of Anchorage.

Once he completes his degree he plans to return to the Seattle area.

“Alaska is going to be very fortunate if he stays because they are going to have one heck of an officer,” McGaughey said

When he’s not focused on his career goals, Gerow enjoys shooting and archery, both competitively and for hunting purposes. His interest was sparked when he started hunting with his dad. Since then, it has become a large part of his life as he enjoys the outdoors.

“You get time to yourself and get to think,” Gerow said.

Gerow competes in three gun matches where he has a tactical rifle, shotgun and pistol that he takes through courses, beginning with one gun and switching throughout the course to take out targets. Contestants are ranked on time and number of targets hit.

While he hasn’t recently competed in archery, he earned first place regionally in 2011 and 2012 and went on to the national competition, where he placed in the top 30 both years. Since then, he has focused less on the competitive aspect of shooting and spent more time going out on his own with friends for fun.

“I try to go out as much as I can…It’s hard to do with a job and school and everything else,” Gerow says.

From his entire high school experience, Gerow believes he will miss his friends the most since he is moving to Alaska and will not get to see them. He looks forward to completing school and being able to get a job and finally begin his career professionally.