Editor’s note: The “Meet the” series profiles the people behind groups, organizations and businesses in the community.
By Lillian Bowe
PNT staff writer
Richard Montano, 20, joined the Portales Fire Department six months ago, but he has not always wanted to be a firefighter.
“I had a silly childhood dream that I wanted to be a firefighter, but it was never serious,” Montano said.
Not until his senior year at Farmington High School when he took courses in fire science for dual credit did he know.
“Portales is different, but a good different. It is smaller than my hometown and people are friendlier,” Montano said.
A typical shift for a firefighter, according to Montano, is a 24-hour shift followed by a 48-hour break, but they often remain on call.
Tanner Elliot, 20, from Cortez, Colo., has been at Portales for 10 months and was in the same class as Montano at the New Mexico Firefighting Academy.
“For me, I have always wanted to be a firefighter. I took classes in high school for dual credit and had my basic EMT done,” Elliot said.
Elliot and Montano said they love their job.
“When there is not a fire though, we have training in the morning and other chores we do around the station,” Elliot said.
Some chores they do are basic maintenance around the station, like keeping the kitchen clean and checks on the fire trucks.
Elliot’s hometown in Colorado is about the same size as Portales, something he enjoys.
“I love the small town feel of Portales, it is a lot like my home,” Elliot said.
For Elliot and Montano, being the new members of the station could have been intimidating, but they said they felt like part of the team immediately.
“Sometimes when I am on my 48 hours off, I come to the station just to be with the guys. I already feel like part of the family,” Montano said.