By Senior Airman Dylan Auger, 439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 03, 2020
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Fernando Acosta (left), a member of the 439th Contingency Response Flight, works as a firefighter for the Fire Department of the city of New York. Acosta followed his family’s tradition of civil service when he joined the FDNY in 2016. (Courtesy photo)
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Fernando Acosta, a member of the 439th Contingency Response Flight, always thought he would end up serving his community.
“Civil service runs in my family,” said Acosta, who has family members serving in the military, law enforcement and other civil service professions.
Acosta works for the Fire Department of the city of New York when not in military status.
He said he was moved by a photo shown to him during his fire academy. It displayed a message from firefighters on a fire truck after the 9/11 attacks in New York City that read “still the greatest job in the world.”
“Even after losing 343 brothers and sisters, firemen still considered it the greatest job in the world,” said Acosta.
He credited his military experience with helping him obtain his civilian career. He also said there are many similarities between the military and the FDNY, which operates under a paramilitary structure.
“Joining the military helped me get an edge in order to join the FDNY and continue to serve,” he said.
Acosta said he appreciates how military friendly the FDNY is, and that there are many veterans within the department.
“The FDNY definitely treats their military members well and it is never an issue when I have to leave for military orders,” said Acosta.
Acosta joined the FDNY in 2016 and takes pride in being one of the select few who get to wear the FDNY uniform.
“45,000 people take the firefighter exam every four years, and only 2,000 to 3,000 get hired by the department,” said Acosta.
Acosta said that his department, which includes FDNY FIRE and FDNY EMS, currently receive approximately 5,000 calls for response daily. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the department has received up to 7,000 daily calls.
FDNY firefighters are tasked with numerous roles, one of Acosta’s is working with New York City’s Anti-Terrorism Task Force. Acosta said he works with law enforcement to ensure areas are safe following suspected attacks.
Acosta said that one of the toughest parts of being a firefighter is managing the stress of the job and not letting it impact you mentally.
“One of the hardest things is definitely to not take your work life home with you,” said Acosta.
He said it’s his fellow firefighters that make the job great.
“We are all very close,” said Acosta. “It is literally a life or death situation every day.”
He said he considers himself very blessed to work for the FDNY and get to serve his community.
“Ask any career fireman and they’ll tell you the same thing,” said Acosta.