Growing up, Miguel Rodriguez had no interest in firefighting.
But during one family get-together, a cousin who worked for Los Angeles Fire Department planted the seed in his mind.
“At the time I was out of college and working,” Rodriguez recalled. “I came to a crossroads: do I go to graduate school or look at something else?”
Rodriguez saw his cousin again at another gathering, who invited him to visit him at work.
“’Primo, join me and we can work together,’” Rodriguez remembers his cousin asking. “So, I went to Fire Station 27 and I got hooked. The family bonding, the brotherhood; they invited me to eat dinner there. I cleaned dishes with them.”
After visiting Station 27 and several others, Rodriguez decided to become a firefighter.
“I started going to school at night, taking fire science and technology courses. That’s where you see all the candidates that want to become firefighters and how prepared you have to be if you want to be considered.”
Rodriguez joined the LAFD at age 30, and has served for 19 years. For the last decade, he’s been a dispatcher for Metro Communications Center attached to Fire Station 4. He works out in the field when he wants overtime so he doesn’t lose his skills.
One thing that keeps Rodriguez in shape is running.“I’ve been a runner since I can remember. I followed my brother since I was a kid. He ran, I ran. He played soccer, I played soccer. We always had a passion for running,” he said. “I started running half-marathons and full marathons when I was in college and I’ve always kept it up.”
In 2017, Rodriguez joined the L.A. Fire Marathon team on behalf of the Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firefighter’s Fund.
“It’s motivating to run for a charity – and it’s personal for us because it’s for Widows and Orphans,” Rodriguez said. “To be able to get all your friends to support you at work and your family, it’s very encouraging.”
Luckily, Rodriguez also found motivation with his wife Irene, who is also a runner.
“When we dated, every day after work we ran. We’re very competitive,” Rodriguez admitted with a laugh. He and Irene would enter races together, and whoever won could pick up something nice at the store afterwards.
“The first year I ran [for our L.A. firefighter’s charity ] my wife and I split the distance. As a charity you’re allowed to do that.”
Irene ran the first half of the L.A. Marathon while Miguel ran the second half. “The great thing about the marathon is they really make all the charities feel like they’re accomplishing something. Typically, at the marathon, you go through a chute at the finish line. There’s no chute for the half marathon, but they set up a chute for all the charities. You run through and you slap hands and embrace your loved one, but then you gotta go!” he said.
Rodriguez ran the L.A. Marathon by himself in 2018, and hopes to rally his Metro family to run for the charity in 2020.
“It’s a very large group of firefighters here. I know I can get a group of guys to train with me. Not everyone wants to run 26 miles but we can get guys training for half; we’d have a good time as a team and raise money.”
To support Miguel and the L.A. Fire running team, or join us for the LA Big 5K, Charity Challenge or Marathon races visit our event web page.
By Lawrence Yee