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Inspiring Conversations with John Hernandez of SD Fire Brigade

Today we’d like to introduce you to John Hernandez.  

Hi John, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today.
After an almost career-ending injury during a structure fire, I was sitting at home on injury leave alone in my thoughts. No longer able to keep my mind busy and away from the horrible sights, I’ve seen working as a Firefighter Paramedic. I found myself in the depths of Depression and what I now know was severe PTSD. I finally decided to seek help which would eventually lead to a life-changing transformation in my life. At the time the City I worked for did not have Death & Disability Benefits or a Pension, meaning if my injury took my job. I would be on the street with little to no benefits from the city I swore to serve. Looking at my kids run around my house and enjoying their life. I sat in disbelief. 

I then looked at my phone and made my first meme. It was a Picture of Firefighters running towards a fire. The caption read “Are you aware the Firefighters in your City do not have Death and Disability Benefits?” I posted it and The Brigade was born that night. 

Since that night a few years ago we now have Death & Disability Benefits, the Pension is back and the page has turned into a place for First Responders to go and have a laugh. I realized I have a weird skill of being able to tie day-to-day firefighter life into our favorite movies from the 1980s and beyond. 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
If it was a Smooth Road, this article wouldn’t be about me. Life is what happens when you’re planning your next move. 

We’ve been impressed with SD Fire Brigade, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
The popularity of the Page @sdfirebrigade on Instagram can mainly be attributed to one Viral Video that captured the funny side of Firefighters across the country during the Quarantine. The Mando Van Video. Sound silly? 

The scene was borrowed from the Movie “Old School” with Will Ferrel. Simply put, I used the Van scene when they are driving around the town grabbing people for their Frat. I wrote on top of the Video “Mando Van” 

You have to understand that during that time, Covid was causing a huge staffing issue with First Responders, and here in California, everything seemed to be on Fire. Mando stands for “Mandatory Overtime” it’s a big part of our life in this job. We get a call in the morning, stating we have work and we can’t say no. This situation was just begging to be comedy, I just was the first one to have fun with it. The Mando van is coming for you… 

What matters most to you?
I’m just a silly guy with a meme page, but humor is only funny because it’s true. If I can bring attention to the crews working every day while also bringing light to the Mental Health issue we face. I feel like I’m doing my part. 

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