Heroes: Bradley following in step-mom’s footsteps

Her fellow volunteer firefighters have given Sydni Bradley the nickname of Wildfire.

Her fellow volunteer firefighters have given Sydni Bradley the nickname of “Wildfire.”

Senior Prom and soot-covered fire gear. Most of the time, these two subjects shouldn’t be in the same sentence.

But it’s all relative to senior Sydni Bradley, a “junior firefighter” for the Plantersville Fire Department.

Sydni got her start over the summer after her step-mom, a volunteer of five months, convinced her to give it a try. And she loved it.

“After seeing me do it for a while she had been eager to join,” said Jennifer Bradley, Sydni’s step-mother.

She quickly developed a bond with the all-volunteer-based department, earning the nicknames “Red” and “Wildfire,” depending on the day.

And when the senior arrived to a meeting one day during the week trying to sell her fellow firemen heavy duty trash bags to raise money for prom tickets, they told her to keep the bags. They all pitched in 8 bucks each, and that was the end of it.

Two weeks later, a junior firefighter named Harry asked her to prom, and she said yes.

A timid Sydni admits that he didn’t make a big deal asking her to the dance.

“He was quite quiet about it, which I’m grateful for,” she said.

But the job isn’t always fluffy. You have to get down and dirty – and you can’t afford mistakes.

“It’s constant training on calls because you always learn something new,” Bradley said. “Every Tuesday she does two hours of hard core training, and sometimes on weekends.”

Sydni feels that although training is rigorous, especially while trying to balance schoolwork in between, it is worth it in the end. And when she needs to use her skills learned in training, “it just comes natural,” she said.

“I try not to worry about Sydni being a junior firefighter, because it doesn’t do me or her any good to worry” said Kelly Hancock, Sydni’s mom.

Sydni has been trained to take safety precautions, taking into account the condition of her surroundings, wind, possible exits, and humidity levels.

Because Sydni is under 18 years old, however, she is not allowed to enter structurally-unsound buildings. But she is constantly behind the scenes, whether it be filing reports or handling equipment that could pose a real threat if not handled carefully.

“There’s so much to learn,” said Sydni, “Like not knowing how to use an air pack could easily become fatal.”

Just a few months ago, Sydni wasn’t sure what she wanted to do in life. She found her senior year quickly approaching, with little direction.

“I think this experience has opened doors for Sydni that otherwise she wouldn’t have had, and I am glad that her step-mom asked her to be a part of it,” said Kelsey Bradley, Sydni’s mom.

Sydni’s department has offered to pay for her to take forestry classes at Texas A&M next summer.

Currently, she is looking forward to graduation fearlessly and confidently.

“I’m really excited because this is going to be my life.”