Employee Spotlight: Firefighter Lt. Robert Mohr
City of Palatka firefighter Lt. Robert Mohr loves living in Palatka. Apart from a year after graduating from Palatka High School when he went to Georgia to wrestle in college, he has lived here his whole life.
“I got homesick and came back home,” he said. “I never want to leave again. I have a big family in town. We are very close. We have a dinner every Monday night with family, aunts, uncles, cousins; everyone’s at the house.”
Lt. Mohr credits his family for helping him choose a career as a firefighter.
“My Dad worked in the Palatka department in the 70s, so I grew up around the City and the Fire Department,” said Lt. Mohr, “Way back in the day, I was maybe 10, they used to have the Explorer program, and I remember coming here and them showing us the old ladder trucks and showing us how to repel.”
Mohr has no regrets about following his father into the department and taking a job he calls very rewarding and exciting.
“Every 3rd day, you get to come and hang out with a group of guys that you spend more time with than you do with your family. It is a very tight-knit group.”
Palatka firefighters work a 24-hour shift every third day.
“Like with a family, you might hate some of them at certain times, but at the end of the day, you’re going to work with them and get the job done,” he said.
According to Lt. Mohr the job can be routine, with shifts filled with mundane tasks like cleaning the station, mopping, sweeping, cleaning bathrooms, washing fire trucks, and training.
“We do a lot of training to learn new things and to keep our skills sharp,” he said
Firefighters also test hydrants and perform fire inspections for businesses in the City.
Like in most families, dinner is also an important time in the firehouse, where firefighters usually sit together for an evening meal.
“We make whatever we can cook the most of for the least amount of money, so a lot of chicken and rice and spaghetti. We can cook for 10-12 people for 40-50 bucks,” said Lt. Mohr.
While being a firefighter can be routine, that can change in an instant.
“You can be sitting down having a meal, the alarm sounds, you go to call and you don’t leave until 4 p.m. the next afternoon. It is exciting and adrenaline filled, and you know you are making a difference and helping people,” Mohr said.
Being a small department like Palatka with 23 firefighters is a great place to get valuable experience quickly, according to Lt. Mohr.
“Because we are small, the amount that you get and are expected to do very quickly is different than at a larger department,” said Lt. Mohr, “We do our best to help you and teach you, and we expect you to rise to the occasion.”
“I have a firefighter right now who has a little over a year on, and she has been working hard, doing classes, and learning on the job.” he continued, “I would put her up against a guy with 3 or 4 years working in another department just because of the amount of exposure she gets. We put her in a situation and say, ‘Here’s how to do it,’ and she jumps on it with both feet. You can make the job anything you want, which is a great part of the fire service.”
Lt. Mohr’s service has also not gone unnoticed.
“Lt. Mohr is a one in a million Fire Officer. His passion for the job is only surpassed by his skills as a firefighter, fire instructor, leader, and mentor. Robert is one of the many young officers that has and will continue to mentor new fire service leaders,” said Palatka Fire Chief Chris Taylor.
“(As a firefighter), you’re expected to do your job, and when someone calls someone, they expect you to show up and save the day. People in Palatka can sleep well at night knowing that these professionals are always ready when they need us.” said Lt. Mohr.
If you are interested in joining the Palatka Fire family, the department is hiring three firefighters. Visit Palatka-fl.gov for more information.