F is for Firefighter: Student makes childhood dream reality

Alex Solomito, a freshman from Memphis, Tenn., washes the fire trucks at Barren River Volunteer Fire Department Station 2 on Monday. Solomito joined the fire department about four weeks ago after a friend and fellow student suggested he join. “You get to help people,” he said. “If I get the opportunity to help someone, I will.”

Ross Whitaker

Alex Solomito spent his childhood Halloween nights pretending to be a firefighter, but now the freshman from Memphis, Tenn., actually is one.

Alex is a new volunteer at the Barren River Volunteer Fire Station 2 in Warren County.

He never had the chance to volunteer before he got to college. He said that didn’t find that opportunity in his hometown.

Alex said that when he got to WKU, he met White Plains freshman Justin Slaton, another volunteer firefighter. Slaton guided him through getting a job as a volunteer.

Alex said that after talking to Slaton, he applied to the Barren River Fire Station and got on the same day.

He said that volunteering hasn’t gotten in the way of his college career. He’s only giving up his free time.

“It’s a volunteer thing, so you come and go as you please,” he said. “If I have a test I have to study for, I can miss this and study for it.”

Alex said he’s still in training right now.

He said it takes 20 hours of training before he can go on runs or get gear. Firefighters must have 150 hours to become certified in Kentucky.

“This is something I’ve always wanted to do, and I enjoy it a lot,” Alex said.

He said he feels a sense of pride in his work.

“You know you get to, I guess in a sense, save someone’s life,” Alex said. “You know you’re helping people, and that’s basically what I want to do is help people.”

John Solomito, Alex’s father, said he could see his son’s desire to be a firefighter in him as a child.

“He has a desire deep down to help people,” he said.

John said that there have been a few career firefighters in the family, and they’re proud of Alex’s choice.

“A lot of young men his age don’t want to or have the time to, and I’m proud of him for doing it,” he said.



John said that volunteering is a good thing for Alex. It gives him an outlet to meet new people, which can be hard so far away from home.

He also said firefighting will give him a mental and physical break from school.

Slaton said firefighting is a good experience for a student.

“A lot of leadership and communication are involved,” he said. “You have to really be out there and talk to people.”

Slaton said he’s learned a lot of little things, such as construction, design and electrical work, that can help out in the future.

Slaton has been a volunteer since March and works for several fire stations at home and in Bowling Green. He said Alex will make a good addition to the Barren River team in the future.

“I think if he sticks around and can handle some situations, he’ll be good,” he said. “Once he gets more hands-on I think he’ll like it a lot more.”

Earl Bowling, fire chief for the Barren River Fire Station, also said he has faith in Alex.

“He shows an eagerness and willingness to learn,” he said.