What it’s like for your dad to be on a strike team for 21 days


Chris Pombo helps fight the Creek Fire Sept. 9. Photo by Sunny Johnson.

On Sept. 9, my dad, who is a firefighter for Palo Alto, was supposed to leave for his normal four-day shift for work. Everything was normal until we got a call saying my dad was being assigned to a strike team for 21 days at the Creek Fire in Fresno. 

This was a big shock to our family, and it put a lot of stress on my mom. Knowing I was the man of the house put a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. With my mom having four kids, she has to drive everyone around town for sports and school with no time for herself. The worry and stress from my dad fighting fires and not knowing if he was safe made it hard for us as a family to live a normal life.

A week passed, and my mom and I were trying to stay strong so my siblings wouldn’t worry about our dad being gone. On the 11th day of my dad being on the strike team, there was a knock at the front door. There was a bouquet of flowers for my mom with a note. To our surprise, it was from my dad, and the note talked about how much he missed my mom and the family and how he was so proud of us for staying strong. It most definitely made my mom’s day and made her lessened her stress about him not being home. 

One thing that really cheered up my family was when we saw our father on ABC30 news. We were watching when they started to talk about the Fresno fire, and a video of my dad putting out the fire popped up. My siblings were so happy to be able to see the great things our father was doing to keep the community safe.

The moment my dad called and said he was able to come home, my whole family had the biggest smiles on their faces. We were all relieved, knowing he was coming home safe and that we do not have to worry anymore. My mom and sister wanted to do something special for my dad when he got home. They went to the store and bought my dad gifts like magazines, Snacks like chocolates and beef jerky, and new clothes in recognition of his courage and role as an amazing father. My brother and I stayed home to make posters and put up decorations to welcome him home. When everything was ready we just sat around anxiously waiting for him to arrive.

The moment when we heard the door unlock on the night of Sept. 30, we felt like kids opening presents on Christmas morning because the best gift we could receive was walking through the front door. He came in with the biggest smile on his face, so happy to see us. We gave him a big hug, and it felt like the family was reunited again.

This comes to show how important family is and that family should never be taken for granted because you never know what could happen. Something many of us may take for granted is the loving people we have around us. Every second we have with our loved ones, we need to cherish those moments. It’s important to let them know how much they mean to you. 

The reason I say this is because some of those firefighters protecting us and our families have lost their lives at the Creek Fire. Those families may have never been able to give the goodbye they needed. This comes to show that we need to cherish those little moments in life just in case the unexpected happens.