Matthew Flak, 22, of Erie, was recently hired as a part-time firefighter at Corry Fire Department.
His hire was approved by Corry City Council at the Sept. 8 meeting, contingent on his passing employment tests, and his first day of work was Monday.
The part-time program was enacted to alleviate the city from having to pay overtime to cover vacations, holidays and other hours. Those hours are instead given to part-timers.
Flak said taking the part-time position in Corry was an ideal fit with his current full-time job as a dispatcher for the Millcreek Police Department.
Flak said while he can’t quite remember what inspired his desire to be a firefighter, he’s wanted to be one since he was very little.
His drive might have stemmed from his dad, Paul, who was a volunteer firefighter for Lake Shore Volunteer Fire Department, in Erie.
“I'm not sure where the interest came from,” Flak said. “It was just ever since I was little — being around the firetrucks and being around anything that's public safety related — I just enjoyed it.”
He started as a junior firefighter in 2014 at Wesleyville Volunteer Hose Co. He said he was elected chief in November 2018 and will hold that position until Nov. 15 of this year.
He took his first firefighting training class while he was still in high school and finished the class after he graduated, in the summer of 2016.
He is certified as an interior firefighter, EMT and basic vehicle rescue technician.
He said he enjoys the public safety aspect of firefighting.
“I enjoy helping people and doing what I can do to give back to the community, regardless of where it is,” Flak said.
Corry Fire Chief Jim Lathrop said Flak’s training and education in the fire service made him a good fit for the CFD.
“We are pleased he is going to try our part-time program,” Lathrop said.
Flak said his parents are proud he is pursuing his dream of being a firefighter.
“They’re proud that I’m following what I wanted to do as far as my dream goes with being a fireman, and they’re happy with that,” Flak said.
It’s not just about the dream of helping people, Flak said he enjoys the thrill, as well as running the lights and the sirens on firetrucks.