Finders’ four-alarm efforts earn him high praise

Fireman named Rocklin’s 2009 Firefighter of the Year
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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Rocklin firefighter/paramedic Sean Finders is into his fourth year with the fire department, but he’s already gained the respect and admiration of his peers and the fire chief. “We recruited a very talented kid that we’ve put to work in a lot of areas,” Fire Chief Bill Mikesell said. Just last month, Finders was chosen as Rocklin’s 2009 Firefighter of the Year. When he’s not taking his turn at clean-up duty at Rocklin Fire Station No. 2 on Crest Drive, Finders puts his energy into a number of projects that support all the firefighters citywide. It’s making a name for him. “I was surprised, to be honest with you,” Finders said. “It’s nothing different than I do everyday.” Fire Captain and Union President Rick Holmes helped nominate him because of the work he does in the community, management projects and his attitude. “He is very humble,” Holmes said. “He understands the traditions and the respect of the fire service. That’s important for a younger guy. We’ve lost that today in society.” Finders helped staff secure a federal grant to buy the department new hand-held radios and is now responsible for programming and coordinating maintenance. “If they asked me to do the radios when I was hired, they’d still be using tin cans and strings,” Mikesell said. “I am not that guy. Sean is that guy. We didn’t know what we got until he showed his passion.“ Finders works with fire statistics and compiles incident response times. He is also responsible for updating wall maps in the fire houses, dispatch and the fleet of trucks that help lead first responders to citizens with dire emergencies. “I can read a map book and get us to the call, but he can design a map book to where I can use it,” Fire Captain Shawn Watkins said. “I can present the problem to Sean and within a few minutes he can have it fixed.” Watkins said while he participates in just about every fire charity and community service event, it’s Finders character that brings him the loyalty of his peers. “He’s like an MVP player,” Watkins said. “One of the detriments is he takes too much. If I gave him 10 projects today, he wouldn’t turn any of them down.” Finders said he appreciates the new title but it’s not going to deter him from KP duty. All eyes are watching including potential firefighter trainees that volunteer at the station from Rocklin High School. Regional Occupation Program trainee Matteo Contartese watches Finders closely as he prepares for his own career on a fire engine. “I want to be a firefighter because it is the coolest job ever,” Contartese said. “I can learn from him.” Finders admits all the attention makes him drive to be better. “It puts more pressure on me,” Finders said. “There are a lot of guys here that are really good and I’m just trying to be the best that I can be. That’s all I could hope for.” Being the best is difficult during a recession as the city does more with less. The city continues to cut fire programs, overtime and has a new round of layoffs scheduled for July. “I can’t do anything about that,” Finders said. It’s easy to tell Finders takes his responsibilities seriously. He said sometimes the traumatic calls stick with him and concentrating on being productive gets him through the difficult memories. “Really any calls with a kid,” Finders said. “You think about it, but then you go back to work. That’s probably the best way to deal with it.” For stress relief Finders jumps in, what he calls, his pick ‘em up truck and hits the open road. “For me, I drive,” Finders said. “That’s the best stress relief. I’ll see where the road takes me.” Watkins said his fire brothers have their eye on Finders and they’ve got his back when he needs them. “We’re like a family,” Watkins said. “There is good time and bad times and we all cope together.”