Firefighter brings positive attitude

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. – The 509th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Emergency Services flight is on-call 24/7. The fire services mission is to prevent fires, minimize injuries and loss of lives, protect property and the environment during periods of peace, war, military operations other than war and humanitarian support operations for those charged in their care. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Bryan Crane)(Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. – The 509th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Emergency Services flight is on-call 24/7. The fire services mission is to prevent fires, minimize injuries and loss of lives, protect property and the environment during periods of peace, war, military operations other than war and humanitarian support operations for those charged in their care. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Bryan Crane)(Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. – Tech. Sgt. Corey McGee, 509th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Emergency Services, poses in front of fire engine 10, March 9. McGee is planning on retiring from Whiteman AFB and getting his degree in fire science.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Bryan Crane)(Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. – Tech. Sgt. Corey McGee, 509th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Emergency Services, poses in front of fire engine 10, March 9. McGee is planning on retiring from Whiteman AFB and getting his degree in fire science. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Bryan Crane)(Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. – Tech. Sgt. Corey McGee, 509th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Emergency Services firefighter, sits in one of the fire trucks at the Whiteman Fire Station, March 9. McGee joined the Air Force in February 1996. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Bryan Crane)(Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. – Tech. Sgt. Corey McGee, 509th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Emergency Services firefighter, sits in one of the fire trucks at the Whiteman Fire Station, March 9. McGee joined the Air Force in February 1996. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Bryan Crane)(Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Tech. Sgt. Corey McGee, 509th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Emergency Services, suits up in his full fire suit, March 9. McGee’s original goal was to be firefighter, a dream he gets to realize every day. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Bryan Crane)(Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Tech. Sgt. Corey McGee, 509th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Emergency Services, suits up in his full fire suit, March 9. McGee’s original goal was to be firefighter, a dream he gets to realize every day. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Bryan Crane)(Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- -- Houses catch on fire, vehicles collide, carbon dioxide detectors begin to warble...No matter what the emergency, Tech. Sgt. Cory McGee of the 509th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Emergency Services and the rest of the Whiteman Fire Department are always prepared to take it on.

Being a firefighter can be a daring job, but it is something that McGee has always wanted to do.

"I always wanted to be a firefighter growing up," McGee said, "and I also wanted to serve my country."

McGee was excited when he found out he would get the chance to do both by becoming a firefighter in the U.S. Air Force.

"Getting the opportunity to serve my country and do the job I wanted was an ultimate achievement," McGee said. "I couldn't have been put in a better situation."

Whether in war or peace, at home or overseas, Air Force firefighters are always on the job.

"Our mission is to prevent fires, minimize injuries and loss of lives, protect property and the environment during periods of peace, war, military operations other than war and humanitarian support operations for those charged in our care," McGee said.

The emotional and mental challenges of a profession that requires men and women to run into burning buildings, potentially risking their lives for others, can certainly be difficult, but staying resilient is key.

McGee has worked to develop a mindset that helps him confront the challenges of this career field.

"It's mixed emotions," McGee said. "You're excited to do your job, but you realize someone is losing their property and valuables and sometimes their lives. The best way to describe it is [that] we train for a job the public hopes we never have to do."

A typical day for McGee involves primarily training, as well as completing any taskers that come up throughout the day. Individual shifts are 24 hours on duty followed by 24 hours off, but all personnel are constantly prepared to respond to a call.

"We have a morning meeting to start off the day," McGee said. "We go through and inspect all our equipment, and then we have annual training on a variety of subjects. We stay on our toes at all times, ready for the call to go out to do our job."

Originally from Waterloo, Iowa, McGee said he enjoys sports and any outdoor activities, including one of the nation's premier firefighting events.

"I enjoy participating in the Firefighter Combat Challenge," McGee said. "It's a national stage to show you are among the fittest firefighters in the world. I also coach youth basketball and football in Warrensburg and I love ATVs, kayaking, camping and really anything to do with the outdoors."

McGee and his wife have two children, and he is working on finishing his degree in fire science sometime this year. He is also waiting to see if he made master sergeant.

This firefighting professional hopes to finish his career here at Whiteman, and desires to continue as a firefighter as a civilian.

"I would like to end my career here, but I have no set plan for after retirement," he said. "I'm just going to see what doors open for me at the end."

McGee is known around the fire department as a positive member of the team who helps lead and motivate the rest of the crew.

"McGee is a great influence on the younger Airmen," said Master Sgt. Nathan McNeil, 509th CES Fire Services. "He always has a positive attitude and a 'get it done' mentality."

McGee said he believes it is good to have balance in all aspects of life, and that has helped him succeed throughout his career and life.