FORT STEWART, Ga. - As a child, many of us may have aspirations to become a teacher, doctor, lawyer, policeman or firefighter. For the latter, Curtis Genaux, Jr. followed through on his dream job.

This soft-spoken giant of a man is now looking down his achievements of almost 24 years in the career field of firefighter.

Currently, Genaux is holding down the position of captain at Fire Station #3 at Wright Army Airfield, but will soon be going back to Fire Station #1 on Fort Stewart, located off Coe Avenue.
Besides putting out flames, Genaux helps fire inspectors during Fire Prevention Week in raising public safety awareness on fires.

When asked what the major concern of fires is at Stewart-Hunter, Genaux said that unattended cooking kitchen fires are one of the biggest problems.

"Kitchen fires can spread to other areas of the house and cause smoke damage to adjacent houses and apartments," he said.

Other items of concern to Genaux are the strip plugs in an office.

"There may be too many plugs in a strip or an outlet may have too many extension cords," he said.

When asked just how many plugs should go in, Genaux stated that reference should be made to the manufacturer's specifications. Of course, if a person is unsure, contact can be made with the fire inspection office, added Genaux.

All installation inspections, regardless of home or office, should go through the proper channels.
When it comes down to the career of firefighting, Genaux remarks that the skill takes some actual training.

"There is plenty of schooling involved," he began. "There is training for basic firefighting one and firefighting two. A lot of training is done at the Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth. A person can attend Fire College in Alabama, and even get specific airport firefighter training in South Carolina."

"It's not just a matter of volunteering," Genaux added. "There is a lot more to this job, especially if you want to make a career out of it."

Thanks to his cousin, Danny Valdez, who worked as a firefighter at Naval Air Station Key West, Fla., Genaux became interested in the career. After high school, he volunteered at the Stock Island Volunteer Fire department, which is the next island adjacent to his home town of Key West. Genaux was later hired as a fireman at the NAS Key West, where he remained until 1996 before transferring to Stewart.

Lillian, his wife of 17 years, along with his sons and grandchildren, fully understand the risks and the time Genaux must dedicate to his ongoing passion.

Genauz is proof that the rumor that firefighters are great cooks is indeed the truth. When not at work, Genaux readily admits that he enjoys baking cakes. Though he does not sell them, he admits to having a passion for making French vanilla and chocolate pound cakes. Even at the stations during his schedule of two days on and three days off, he will mix up such treats as Picadilla with black beans and rice, Cuban desserts, and Cuban pork, which is marinated with his secret herbs and spices.

Many have been fooled and surprised by his fluency in Spanish. It comes in part from his grandfather's Family, who was from Cuba.

"It's how I was raised," said Genaux.

As with many other employees at Stewart-Hunter, there is a reason for the longevity in one job, one career.

"I love this job," Genaux said. "I love helping others."