What does it take to be a reserve firefighter for Cambria Fire Department? Initiative, dependability, dedication, exceptional performance and a willingness to defend the community and its residents — the very qualities that inspired Ben Shank’s coworkers to vote him in as the department’s 2012 Firefighter of the Year. Shank, above, who is paid $9 an hour for his four to six 24-hour shifts a month, received the award during a February dinner at the Cavalier Resort in San Simeon. Fire Chief Mark Miller said Shank also ‘has been our go-to guy whenever regular staffers call in sick, are at school or on vacation’ or are otherwise unavailable to work. The San Luis Obispo resident has worked at the department since September 2010, and in November also joined the Cambria Community Healthcare District as an on-call emergency medical technician. The 34-year-old former professional motocross racer made a career change on the advice of friends who knew Shank wasn’t the kind of guy to work at a desk all day. ‘The more classes I took, the more I felt firefighting was a perfect fit for me,’ he said March 25.
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