Heather Mazurkiewicz

Listen

What is the best life decision you have made? The decision to enter into the Fire Academy. On December 11, 2013, my whole life changed. It was the day I did a ride-along with the professional firefighters with the city of Cape Coral and I experienced “the calling” or as I usually say “I fell in love with the fire profession.” So at 45 years old I signed up for the North Naples Fire Academy … After the academy I applied and was accepted to volunteer with Bayshore Fire & Rescue, went through EMT school, passed my national certification test and not much makes me happier or prouder than to wear the uniform. People tell you to follow your heart but I read once follow your heart but follow your talents too.

Is there a decision you would like to go back and make differently? This is a tricky question because whatever I could change in my past I would not want to end anywhere different than where I am right now. I always tell people I would go through everything in my life again … if I knew I was going to end right where I am today. I do, however wish, I had experienced college and obtained a degree.

What’s the most important change you’d make in (or about) Southwest Florida? I would like to see cancer presumption legislation for firefighters passed in the state of Florida. Cancer is the No. 1 killer of firefighters and currently 37 other states protect firefighters and their families with presumption legislation. The modern fires we face have changed with the introduction of lightweight construction, the influx of electronic gadgets found in homes and the fact that our furnishings are no longer natural products but are synthetic and petroleum or plastic products. When these furnishings burn they produce toxic smoke. In the past two years, more firefighters have been diagnosed with cancer than in the previous 10 years. That is a scary statistic.

What advice would you give to a male or female high school student? First stop spending so much money on coffee and start saving for your retirement.
Don’t feel this new pressure society has placed on you to decide your professional path. You don’t have to have your life mapped out by the time you hit your senior year. Experience all you can and through experience hopefully you’ll discover your passion.
No matter what, don’t judge others, you have no idea what demons they are battling, be nice and help each other succeed.

… to a young man or woman entering college? Stop spending so much on coffee and start saving for your retirement.
If you have been granted to opportunity and ability to go to college, finish! Get that degree!