“I was and am very motivated for this,” says Forest Bradley about being in the Fire Academy. “I wanted to get in and feel accomplished, which doesn’t happen very often for me.”
Forest’s life hasn’t been the easiest, but he can say that he’s worked hard for everything he has.
When Forest was 15 years old, family issues arose, and he chose to drop out of high school in order to work full time to help support his family.
He worked various jobs for many years but always had an itch to do something more. Partially because his father had, Forest wanted to fight fires and help others. He also wanted to give his son Colton a positive role model.
“I wanted to do something for the community and help out,” he said with a big smile.
But desire itself is not all it takes to be a firefighter. You need to have endurance and strength, along with a wealth of knowledge. You must be able to carry a heavy load—on top of the additional 50 pounds for the protective gear alone.
When Forest first became interested in attending the Fire Academy, he weighed 320 pounds and was winded just climbing the tower at Tobico Marsh where they do the testing. So, it took a lot of determination to succeed.
“I was the heaviest; now I’m the fastest,” he proudly said. He finished his Candidate Physical Abilities Test with the fastest score of the group and only missed two questions on his written exam.
But that wasn’t his only obstacle. To be a firefighter, you also need a high school degree. This is how he found himself at our Great Lakes Bay College and Career Resource Center seeking help with his GED testing. He studied profusely and finished all the subjects in record time. Now, he’s applying for scholarships to go to Delta College so he can continue his education with fire sciences and paralegal degrees.
Forest’s GED testing was paid for through BACF’s Men’s Philanthropy Group. This group, the Women’s Philanthropy Circle, and Walmart have provided funds for students to earn their GED. Once they pass a practice test for each subject, students can apply through the Resource Center for a voucher to take the official test for free. The Resource Center has funded 23 GEDs for men and women across the region, each with their own story.
BACF is proud to help individuals achieve their dreams as we work alongside other organizations that help contribute to our community’s successes.
In May, Forest will be a firefighter, working hard to give back to the community who has helped give him much.