Dalton Major of Clarendon lives his dream as career firefighter at Batavia

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 December 2022 at 4:54 pm

Photos courtesy of Marc Major: Dalton Major trains during a recruit academy for the City of Batavia. He started full-time as a career firefighter with Batavia in July.

CLARENDON – Dalton Major, 23, is living his dream as a full-time firefighter. In July he started with the City of Batavia Fire Department.

He has responded to fires, emergency medical calls, car accidents and even ducklings trapped in the sewer. During the blizzard, he helped organize supplies that were delivered to people in need.

“There is no routine call,” Major said. “You have to be ready for everything.”

Major practically grew up in the Clarendon fire hall, following his dad Marc to calls. As a young boy, Dalton would wait at the fire hall in a meeting room with other children of firefighters. That room had toys, games and a TV.

As he got older, Dalton wanted to be part of the trainings.

“I just loved to be up there,” Dalton said.

Dalton’s mother Joanne also was an EMT with Clarendon from 2007 to 2014. Marc is now the fire chief of the volunteer fire company.

In recent years Dalton has joined his father on EMS, fire and other emergency calls. Dalton is a lieutenant with the Clarendon Volunteer Fire Company.

This summer he fulfilled a longtime goal of being hired to work as a firefighter when he joined the City of Batavia Fire Department.

Dalton said the Batavia department, staffed with professionals in a small city, is a perfect spot for him.

“It’s the best fit for me,” he said. “That place is really like a family.”

Dalton in the past decade has steadily been working towards his dream of being a professional firefighter.

Dalton was part of a First Responders Youth Program that gave kids in the Holley school district some exposure to firefighting. That group still meets Monday evenings at Clarendon and is run by Bob Freida and other firefighters. Marc Major, Pete Hendrickson and Joe Morlino also served as advisors in the program.

Dalton speaks at age 14 in Montour Falls for a County Coordinators Conference. Dalton shared about the First Responders Youth Program in Holley, Clarendon and Fancher-Hulberton-Murray.

It was intended to introduce kids to firefighting with the hope some of them would join a volunteer or career fire department as adults.

When Dalton was 14 he spoke at a state-wide County Coordinators Conference in Montour Falls. He talked about the benefits of the First Responders Youth Program in Holley, Clarendon and Fancher-Hulberton-Murray. The program for grades 7 to 12 is backed by the Holley Central School District and is an official school activity.

Clarendon Fire Chief Marc Major and his son Dalton Major celebrate Dalton’s graduation from the state fire academy.

The students gain some hands-on learning, but aren’t allowed to go to a live fire. They instead become familiar with fire trucks, equipment and training.

Some of the students in the youth group are local volunteer firefighters, including Zach Dann and Nate Smith with the Murray Joint Fire District. Others have gone into public service professions including Cassie Dean who is a security dispatcher at the Rochester airport, Delilah Doerr who is a home health aide, and Mike Snell, a member of the military who is par tof a crash rescue team.

At Holley, Dalton played soccer and basketball while being an active member of the youth program that met at the Clarendon fire hall.

After he graduated form Holley, Dalton then went to Onondaga Community College to completed his degree in fire protection safety and technology. He earned certifications in Firefghter 1, Firefighter 2, haz-mat awareness and haz-mat operations. He also has his national certifications to be a fire officer and fire instructor.

Dalton also was able to bunk in the Liverpool Fire Department fire house, staying there for two years in exchange for responding to calls.

“It’s a big city department,” Major said. “I got very lucky with Liverpool. I gained a lot of experience and met some really good people.”

Dalton graduated from Onondaga in May 2020 the height of the Covid pandemic. He worked about 10 months with Monroe Ambulance as an EMT, while also working part-time for an electrician in Brockport. He then worked as a utility worker for RG & E.

But he didn’t want to give up on the dream of a full-time job as firefighter. The firefighter Civil Service Exam was offered in Batavia. Dalton aced the test and then went to the state fire training academy in Montour Falls for 15 weeks, graduating in July.

He is grateful for a career where he said he can make a difference for many in the community, sometimes it’s a matter of life and death, other times it’s providing a listening ear and some comfort.

“It’s the best job ever,” he said. “You’re going to make someone’s bad day better. The main reason the fire department was created was to make things better for other people.”

Major said no fire or EMS call is shrugged off. If there is a call for a fire alarm, there could be a fire. An EMS call, even if it seems minor, is a very big issue for the person in pain.

“We treat everything as an emergency,” he said. “You have to be ready for everything.”

Dalton Major lived at the Liverpool Fire Department near Syracuse for about two years as part of a bunk-in program while a student at Onondaga Community College.