Jose-Rodriguez-01 There’s a smile in Jose Rodriguez’ voice when he talks about volunteering with his A-Shift team at Fire Station 12. “The whole platoon showed up for Hope for Firefighters,” Jose shares. “We’ve been volunteering whenever we can. Whenever they need extra bodies.” His enthusiasm is as infectious as his spirit is adventurous.

How else would you describe a man who braves deep fried Oreos and an icy dunk tank all in the name of charity? In 2012 alone, this busy Firefighter 3 has volunteered for Lane Kemper Softball Classic and the Hope for Firefighters practice picnic, where corporate sponsored teams train to compete in “Muster Games.” The games are based on old-fashioned firefighting techniques and have become a fun, athletic competition.

He, along with six members of his platoon, also volunteered at the El Coyote Cafe salsa contest, where they were persuaded into risking the chilly waters of the charity dunk tank on a brisk November day. Jose admits, “It was freezing in the dunk tank, but we had a blast!” It was the first year the Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firemen’s Fund held the event, so its success meant a great deal to Jose. “It’s pretty important for me. We’re all going to depend on the association at some point.”

Jose-Rodriguez-02Perhaps the dunk tank wasn’t so tough after the dessert contest at the Hope for Firefighters event in June. “We sat around and threw out ideas. Then, we decided to start deep frying things to see what worked.” Jose continues, “We were deep frying everything and the Oreos turned out the best.” And the crowd certainly agreed. Station 12 took home the award for Best Dessert at last year’s event, and plans for this year’s entry are already underway.

It’s no shock to Jose that the platoon works so well together. “We have a pretty tight crew over at the 12. We do this kind of stuff all the time.” He shares a story of his team donating a Christmas tree and presents to Toys for Tots last year after a nearby family’s home caught on fire during the holiday season. “Battalion Chief Gene Bednarchik dressed up as Santa and handed out gifts to the kids. It was pretty amazing!”

So where does Jose direct his energy when he’s not at the fire station or volunteering for the charity? “It’s pretty much work-baby-and-work. Family time is really how I’ll spend most of my days,” says Jose. When possible, he will also be combing time with his family and his fellow firefighters. “I’ve taken my kid and wife and made a day of it at the muster practice. We all have a good time.”

Being a dedicated family man also makes it easier for Jose to want to give back to the charity. “It’s for a good cause. We’re helping those families who no longer have their loved ones. We would definitely do it again.”

By Candace Nicholson