Gibran Williams on Firefighting & Pushing Yourself Every day
“I’m a pretty lucky guy, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that I have one of the best jobs in the world." - Gibran Williams
Gibran Williams, a Firefighter for the Indianapolis Fire Department, shares his unique story of becoming a firefighter and the initiatives they are taking beyond the job to create a better community. Gibran started our conversation off by expressing his love for his job. He said, “I’m a pretty lucky guy, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that I have one of the best jobs in the world.” It is very clear that Gibran’s passion and love for helping the community motivates him to do his work every day.
Before becoming an Indianapolis Fire Fighter in February of 2019, Gibran took classes at Ivy Tech Community College focusing in Business Administration and he realized that an office job was not a path he saw for himself. He was even considering joining the military. When talking with some friends who were firefighters, Gibran heard firsthand how passionate and excited they were when talking about their work and what they do. He decided to sign up for a Fire Science program and went all-in on his commitment to going through the stages of becoming an Indianapolis Fire Fighter for the 12th largest fire department in the country. In addition to being a firefighter, Gibran is a certified EMT and is also considering becoming a paramedic in the future. He does all of this for the ability to give back to the emergency response industry in any way that he can. After working in the field for over a year now, Gibran reflects on his career choice. He says, “The most rewarding part about it is how humbling it is to have a job that makes my family proud, to have a job that puts me in situations to genuinely help people. Those things help me motivate myself to be better at this. It also helps me really just enjoy coming to work. I don’t take for granted getting to enjoy what I do.”
“The most rewarding part about it is how humbling it is to have a job that makes my family proud, to have a job that puts me in situations to genuinely help people. Those things help me motivate myself to be better at this. It also helps me really just enjoy coming to work. I don’t take for granted getting to enjoy what I do.” - Gibran Williams
Clothe-A-Child and the Fill the Bell initiative are just one fraction of the charitable programs that Gibran is involved in through the Indianapolis Fire Department. Every year a firefighter is paired with a kid in the community to take them on a shopping spree for a suit, hat, gloves, shoes, socks, shirts and underwear. This initiative is aimed at making a tangible and meaningful impact on these children so that they can hopefully make a similar impact on generations to come. Each firefighter forms a connection with these children and teaches them the value behind helping others in the community. The children are truly enamored to be paired with these heroes of the Indianapolis Fire Department and are able to learn firsthand how far community involvement, a strong work ethic, and a positive mindset can take them. This tradition was started in 1930 when the Indianapolis Times began advocating for children’s needs and raising money for children affected by the Great Depression. This eventually evolved into The Indianapolis Times Clothe-A-Child campaign. Today, the tradition continues as firefighters, on their day off, stand proudly in the rain, snow, cold, no matter the weather conditions to ring a bell to collect donations that will aid the youth and future generations of their community. If you want to check out the Fill the Bell initiative, follow the link provided below.
While Gibran loves and cherishes his position as an Indianapolis Firefighter, he does acknowledge that there are some hardships that arise within his profession and discusses the ways he deals with them. Having a strong support system, talking to friends and family about experiences, and reflecting on your weaknesses are all very significant factors to him when supporting his mental health. Gibran also recognizes the importance of valuing the effort and passion you pour into daily life as it relates to maintaining a healthy mental state. This is very important for Gibran to remember day-to-day on the job in a profession where the team is constantly reacting quickly in order to mitigate situations and save people’s lives in many instances. Gibran shares stories of a time when they received a call from AutoZone when a man had a heart attack and thankfully, they were able to resuscitate him. He says that these times when they are able to use their learned methods and training to save lives are extremely rewarding, as one can imagine.
“I rely on something called ‘grace moment.’ They are basically what can seem small and insignificant moments that can have astounding impacts and can even be a catalyst to a severe paradigm shift in someone’s life.” - Gibran Williams
Often life can throw hard situations at a person, especially in a career like firefighting that requires a person to be put in many moments of quick decision. In those times, Gibran talks about how it is easy to put a focus on what could’ve been done differently and the mistakes that were made, but sometimes it is important to focus on the triumphs, large and small, that have been accomplished that are bettering yourself and the community. Gibran refers to these seemingly small impacts as “grace moments.” He says, “I rely on something called ‘grace moment.’ They are basically what can seem small and insignificant moments that can have astounding impacts and can even be a catalyst to a severe paradigm shift in someone’s life.” An example Gibran gave of one of these grace moments was when a coworker was on a call at an apartment of a single mother and her kids where he noticed they were in need of food. He went back to the firehouse to collect money from anyone who could contribute and he bought and delivered groceries to this family. Gibran is very grateful for these grace moments where his fire department family makes an effort to take care of other families. These moments can leave an impact that instills positivity and hope within one person that can be translated even further to impact an entire community. Gibran is inspired by these moments to become a better person every day. He says he lives “ To do unto others the way you want others to do unto you. I really try to instill that in myself in every day and hopefully over time that will become an innate thing in the fiber of who I am.”
“To do to others the way you want others to do unto you. I really try to instill that in myself in every day and hopefully over time that will become an innate thing in the fiber of who I am.”
- Gibran Williams
Aside from giving back to the community and working in the fire department, Gibran also discussed his approach to goal setting and self-improvement. He often sets goals for himself to push his threshold and ability to take on more challenges in life. Gibran lives by the idea: “Seize the day when you wake up and find a way to make yourself better.” One of his many goals, all of which challenge himself to grow, is to complete an Ironman Triathlon in the next few years. Gibran is a firm believer in the idea that people are capable of much more than they give themselves credit for. Some people compare themselves to others and disregard their interests and write is off as being incapable. Instead of disregarding these passions and focusing on the million reasons to not pursue a dream, Gibran encourages people to simply make a list of attainable goals and just go do them. If you complete that simple task, he says you are already raising your threshold of what you can accomplish and it will begin to open doors. These open doors help a person see all the possibilities and all that they are potentially capable of. It is crucial to take the time to figure out and create a plan to step by step implement change in your life, which with effort will eventually lead to a goal being attained and true change being recognized. Even though their will be setbacks along the way, every trial to a goal is a defined action point that will change you, you will learn and grow and obtain more knowledge towards what you are trying to accomplish.
“Seize the day when you wake up, and find a way to make yourself better.” - Gibran Williams
At times it can seem scary to push personal limits, but when you do so you learn how to work through and cope with many challenges that life may throw your way. In everyone’s head, their voice is often telling them to just take the easy way out. Gibran explains how important it is to be able to learn to tell that voice to “Shut the hell up” because what you want is so much more important than quitting. This is an important message for everyone to remember every day as they are working through their different life obstacles and chasing their hopes and dreams. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story, Gibran!
Written by: Anna Rice & Jason Crowe
Interview by: Jason Crowe