The life of a firefighter is one that requires hard work and dedication. Each day on the job brings forth new challenges and surprises, most in the form of emergencies where the firefighter needs to react quickly and effectively. Marco Island Fire Rescue Division Chief Tom Bogan has been reacting quickly and effectively for over 25 years now, keeping residents protected and safe.
Bogan moved to Marco Island from the Jersey Shore at the age of 19. He was a volunteer firefighter for three years prior to becoming a full-time member of the Marco Island Fire Rescue Department. Like the other firefighters, he works a 48-hour, straight shift, living those intense hours at the fire station, away from his family.
“You have to love this place,” he said with enthusiasm. He credits much of that love with the respect that he has for his co-workers, citing the high caliber of the city’s Fire Rescue team.
“All of the guys are just fantastic workers,” he said, giving particular credit to Chief Mike Murphy and Deputy Chief David Batiato. Bogan said “I look to Chief Murphy and Deputy Chief Batiato to set an example and just do my best to follow in their footsteps.”
Everyday life at the fire stationis always unpredictable. Projected plans for the day include checking and maintaining vehicles, and meeting to discuss community outreach, communication and education, firefighter physical fitness training and many other topics, tasks and concerns. Emergency calls come in round-the-clock. On the very morning that I was scheduled to meet with Chief Bogan, a call came in and his presence was needed in response to a car fire. A firefighter never knows where and when his next call will be.
“A firefighter has to be a MacGyver at all times,” Bogan said.
Recalling the TV show, but not really understanding the definition of that phrase, I consulted a dictionary. Apparently, the television character MacGyver was someone who could repair things with whatever tools were available. Hence the definition of MacGyver as, “One who can make or repair things in an improvised or inventive way, making use of whatever items are at hand.”
What a great way to describe our firefighters. They do whatever they can, however they can, to protect and save lives.
Very much in favor of the city’s pursuit of obtaining a COPCN (Certificate of Public Convenience Necessity) that would enable Marco to control its own EMS services, Bogan notes that the fire stations are in need of repair and renewal to bring them up to the higheststandards of operation. Again citing the MacGyver-like qualities of our firefighters, Bogan made a point of acknowledging the top-notch performance of the Marco Island Fire Rescue Department, but said it could reach even higher levels once we obtain a COPCN.
When asked about his favorite part of the job, Bogan spoke of how he and his co-workers thrive on the profession’s unpredictability and their belief that it is a calling to help others. In spite of this, he humbly rejects the label of “hero,” saying it’s all just part of the job. Perhaps it is that ability to react and respond quickly in emergency situations that defines the soul of a firefighter.
Bogan’s eyes light up at the mention of the Fire Rescue Department’s marine vessel, which was built and designed by Chief Murphy, retired Deputy Chief Chris Byrne and Bogan himself. Since 2013, this EMS vessel has responded to more than 100 marine emergencies each year.
For all his dedication to community service, Bogan’s real inspiration comes from his wife Kathy. A realtor on the island, Kathy has lived on Marco since 1968. Her family and their business were responsible for much of the original construction here in the Deltona Corporation’s early days of development on the island.
“My wife Kathy is a fabulous person,” said Bogan.“She has been the force that has always encouraged me.”
Bogan pointed to the strong role that Kathy played in raising their two children, sometimes on her own, as his work schedule required much time away from the family. Their children are now grown, with families of their own. Their daughter Brielle and her husband Jason have a son, Boden, while their son Tommy III and his wife Lauren have a son, Thomas Bogan IV. According to Bogan, Kathy encouraged him to complete his degree in fire science, something he proudly did two years ago, completing a venture that originally began in 1977.
“I could not have done it without her,” he added.
For young people who wish to pursue a career in the field of fire rescue, Tom Bogan offered this advice.
“Education is so important,” he says. “Today’s world is so complex. We need young people who are smart, who will be go-getters and who will maintain physical fitness. Most importantly, you must be willing to listen and be a follower in order to pursue your goals. Leadership opportunities will come as a result of that. But in the beginning, you must listen to those with experience.”
Thank you, Tom Bogan for all that you have given to our island. We thank you and Kathy for being a part of our fabulous community.