Making a difference: Fire Lt. Wes Mariner

Lt. Wes Mariner, SLFD

Fire Lieutenant Wes Mariner knew from the time he was five years old that he wanted to be a firefighter. His South Amherst hometown had an all volunteer department and when the old siren sounded, “I remember everybody – baseball coaches and other dads in the neighborhood – seeing them all run and then seeing them on the trucks. I always had a fascination with it.”

He enlisted in the Marine Corps after graduating from Firelands High School believing he’d gain experience as a firefighter during his time in the service and knowing the GI Bill would get him additional training as a firefighter/paramedic. He was right because he was sen to to Kuwait and Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 where he was assigned to crash fire rescue. In civilian terms, it means he traveled in a convoy of fire engines about one mile behind forward forces working on battle damaged equipment. Once U.S forces entered Iraq, he helped set up forward operating bases.

At age 19, Mariner became a section leader responsible for eight Marines and $1 million in equipment.

“It’s a dangerous line of work but I had no problem accepting responsibility and the potential liability associated with it. In the military, you gotta trust the guys above you, working with you and beneath you. It requires respect for the job and people who do the work, something I’ve tried to bring over to the fire service.”