By Judith Reyes, Viking Voice Page Editor
Raised in Kingsburg, Brian Price is truly the image of hard work and dedication. His selflessness and compassion make him nothing less than a true hero in our humble community.
Price was born in Visalia, but grew up near Burris Park, out in the country surrounded by friends and family.
He grew up thinking that he would be more than happy to leave. In fact, when he graduated KHS in 1997, he thought he would be leaving and never coming back. He left for a while, but he then met his wife, Irene Morales Price, and everything quickly changed, especially after he had his first daughter.
Now that he's raising his own family he decided that the best thing to do was to return to his hometown, the place where his roots ran deep.
"The very things I wanted to get away from Kingsburg for (the 'small town life' and all its idiosyncrasies) were the things I wanted to surround my new family with. The values, focus on character, firmly shaking people's hands, looking them in the eye and working hard are just a few of the tendencies from this lifestyle that I returned home for," Price recalled.
During his time away, Price attended Fresno State. He was studying to become a Special Education Teacher when, during his junior year, he began volunteering at the Kings County Fire Station 1.
"I returned home to Irene after responding to my first structure fire and promptly announced that I was changing my career goal from teaching to fighting fires," reminisced Price.
With his wife's support, he began a training, education, and testing process that soon led him to get hired with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) as a seasonal firefighter. Once the season had ended, he worked with the City of Selma as a firefighter and an EMT. Eventually, he returned to Kings County, where it had all begun. There he worked as a fire apparatus engineer for almost two years. Later in 2001, he was hired by the Fresno Fire Department and continues to work there to this day.
There are many satisfying qualities about his job.
"We arrive on scene and things are bad, people are having the worst day of their lives when they call us. We get there and immediately begin bringing order to the chaos. That instant gratification is incredibly appealing for a high energy person like myself," Price explained.
Another aspect he enjoys is being able to work alongside "some of the most courageous, selfless, inspiring, interesting, funny people."
One of the more important things is, of course, the unpredictable work hours that come with the job.
"My job's unique schedule also provided me with an opportunity to be present in my daughter's life that the standard 8-5, Monday through Friday work schedule would not allow," he stated.
However, living with a 56 hour work week and often being gone for 48 hours at a time is difficult, he admits. "I missed first steps, more Christmases/Thanksgivings/Easters/ Birthdays than I can remember, and countless family gatherings due to being on shift," Price said.
But on the upside, he was also lucky enough to spend quality time with his daughters. "I was also able to be my girls' classroom dad, coach, tutor, cook, cleaner and chauffeur. For these opportunities I am eternally thankful for my job and the life its provided for my family," Price admits.
His job has allowed him to be impacted in various ways by events around the world. "I was able to travel to Haiti after the earthquakes and Mississippi, Louisiana after Katrina, and help with the relief efforts as a member of Firefighter For Christ, and more recently I responded to the Mudslides in Montecito with Regional Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 5. All of these incidents were significant in terms of world history and tragedy. To be a part of the response effort to save those impacted by these events was a humbling honor. To use your training and experience to help those in need on that scale and to do it well, with excellence, is incredibly rewarding. But more importantly than the reward of helping those in need at their moment of most need was the perspective provided by that experience," Price urges.
"Life is short, shorter for some than others - live each day with that knowledge in mind and don't waste any precious time on foolish things," Price said.
"Hard times are coming, no one is exempt, we will all face them. Knowing that it's something that we will all have to deal with is, I think, a large part of successfully navigating through hard times; accepting that truth in advance and not being surprised when they come. It doesn't make them any easier, but it helps you realize that others have been there, you're not alone, nor are you the first," Price advises.
"So pick up your head and put your hand to the plow and take one step, then another, then another, till you get through it. That attitude and the love and example of Jesus Christ in my life have helped me work my way from a father at 19 to a Battalion Chief with Fire Department in the 5th largest city in the state of California at 36," Price believes.
Price gives helpful advice to Kingsburg's posterity: "First of all, be proud of being a Viking. You come from a tradition of excellence that you bare a burden in carrying on. Don't think for a moment that the highest achievements and goals you set your mind to are out of reach because you are from a small town in the Valley."
Second of all, get out. You must get out of the Valley and experience life beyond the confines of the Sierra Nevada and the Coastal Range to truly appreciate the value this community represents. Don't burn any bridges on your way out, you can always come back, but GO! The world is an incredibly large place with many ways of doing life, go learn a few, change your perspective. You may stay out there or you may come home. Either way, you'll always be a Viking: act accordingly."
Today he lives peacefully in the city, which is a little different than the rural area he grew up in. He and his wife have been married for over 19 years, and together they raise two daughters.
"The person I am runs into danger not for my own glory but in the hopes of saving someone else. The person I am serves a God who sacrificed himself for me personally in spite of my failures. The person I am is a result of my upbringing here in Kingsburg," Price surmised.
Brian Price is the paragon of Kingsburg's values, therefore making him a worthy recipient of this month's Viking Valor honor.