Joe Palombi Jr. has always wanted to be just like his dad. "I use my dad as my role model," Palombi said. "If I can be half the firefighter, half the father, the husband and half the man he is, then I will be a happy guy."
The elder palombi retired this month as a firefighter and ladder drive in New Jersey. Joe Palombi Jr, 28, is a master firefighter and ladder truck driver at Midway Fire Rescue. "For the last few months i've been teaching guys the ladder, which is cool because I feel like i'm doing what my dad did," Palombi said. "I really enjoy that."
His dad tried to talk him out of following in his footsteps. "He said it's a great job but you'll work your butt off and it will be long hours for low pay." Palombi siad. "Apparently that's what I enjoy."
Palobie grew up in a firefighting family in Trenton, N.J. and graduated from northern Burlington County Regional High School in 2004. His mom, Cathy, works for a company that sells firefighting rquipment and he has a uncle who is a firefighter. He also has a sister, Jen, who is a school teacher in New Jersey. He was 20 when he got his full-time firefighting job in Chesterfield, N.J. and he also found time to earn an associate's degree in criminal justice from Mercer County Community College. "When all my friends were in college, going to parties, I was going to the fire academy for training." Palombi said. "But it paid off." All of his training has left Palombi a few classes away from a associate's degree in fire science. He moved south to join Midway when he was 24.
"It's a cool job", Palombi said. "You get paid more than just monetary. You help somebody, you see them out on the street or you see somebody and they come up and they talk to you, that's awesome. So it makes it worth it.
Palombi is a member of the county's Technical Rescue Team, is an extraction and hazmat technician, and is trained for rope, high angle and water rescues.
"The fact that we can get off a fire truck and go on a Jet Ski is pretty cool." he said. But his heart belongs on the ladder truck.
"Anything on the ladder is my favorite because it makes me feel closer to my dad." That includes training some of the Midway's new guys who have never worked on a ladder before because they came from departments that didn't have ladder trucks.
Palombi said his worst experience came from when he was a new firefighter and he responded to a car accident involving a mother and child. "We pulled the child out and the child died in our arms." he said. That was pretty rough. You take the good with the bad and the good makes up for the bad." His best expereinces come in October, when Midway personnel visit schools for Fire Prevention Month. "You show the kids the truck and you see their eyes light up. "It makes you feel good," he said. "I remember when I was a kid and my dad showed up with his company and pulled the ladder right out in front of the school for a fire alarm, and I thought it was the coolest thing and I saw that look in those kids that I had. So I can see all these little kids that might become firefighters too." Outreach programs also help kids become comfortable with firefighters so they won't be afraid of them during a real emergency, Palombi added.
Right now Palombi is enjoying where he's at with Midway and not planning too far down the road. "My short-term goals are just to be the best I can be and use my full potential and not only teah these guys, but learn from these guys because we have some of the best guys around, " he said. "Some of our officers and master firefighters, even some of the younger guys, they teach us all the time. I love learning and teaching."
Palombi is single and shares his house in Surfside BEach with one of his co-workers and a chocolate/labrador/mastiff named Riggs. He's like to get married and have kids one day. He also has travled the world thanks to a friend who works for a cruise line, enjoying stops in Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and Egypt. "I really enjoy traveling," he said.
Whe he's not working at Midway or Carolina Limousine, he's riding his motorcycle, going to the beach with Riggs or paddle boarding. He's a Philadelphia Phillies fan, and despite being from New Jersey, a Dallas Cowboys fanm just like his dad.
South Strand News