Professional Profile: Columbia Fire Department firefighter Zachery PeakBy JOSHUA CAMPBELL,
(This week The Columbian-Progress spotlights Columbia Fire Department firefighter Zachery Peak.)
Q: When and where were you born?
A: I was born in Hattiesburg Feb. 14, 1997.
Q: Where did you attend school?
A: I went to Pine Burr Christian Academy. It’s a small, private Christian school out in Pine Burr. It’s mainly for kids that go to church there.
Q: Where do you work? Tell us about your job/company.
A: I’m a firefighter, just moved from being a rookie. I just graduated from the fire academy May 23. I run the rescue and respond to all emergency calls, mainly medical calls. I respond to fires also with the engines. It’s pretty much whatever they need in the city.
Q: What led you to your profession?
A: Ever since I got out of school, I always liked helping people. I really felt like it was a calling. I got into the volunteer world and wanted to make a career with it. It never really worked out until about a year and a half ago. I came to talk to the chief, and he hired me on.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?
A: I love helping people more than anything. To be there on the worst day of their life, that’s what they call us for. They call us on their worst day and expect us to fix what’s wrong. That’s what I enjoy about the job, helping.
Q: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
A: The most challenging is the firefighting part of it. I like the challenge firefighting brings and the adrenaline rush. You never know what you’re going to face when you get on scene. Dispatch just calls us and says a house is on fire, and you don’t know what you’re pulling up on scene to. You never know what you’re getting into. I like that challenge. I like solving stuff.
Q: What is the most important lesson you have learned in your career?
A: To always treat people right no matter what the situation may be. They may be stressed out because they called you, you pull up and they may see something they don’t like. They may be hollering at you, but you always have to treat them right. You have to remember to never get mad back with them just because they’re hollering and screaming. They called you to fix their problem. They’re going to be stressed out. If you treat them with kindness, everything will eventually be smoothed back out.
Q: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: I wanted to be an airplane pilot. The crazy thing about that is I don’t like flying in airplanes. I used to collect airplanes as a child. I had like hundreds of them, but I grew out of it. By 16, I wanted to be a firefighter.
Q: What was your first job?
A: I worked with one of my cousins building portable buildings during the summer. I was 14 when I started through school. I had something I wanted to buy, and my mom and dad told me if I wanted something I would have to buy it. It made me appreciate it a lot more when you have to work for it.
Q: Who is the person who has been most influential in your life?
A: My grandpa, Vernon Moody, had a lot of influence on me. My real dad stepped out of my life when I was like 1 and left my mom. My grandpa stepped in when my mom, Rebecca Peak, was off working to support us. Then my mom got remarried, and my dad, Billy Peak, has been the second most influential because he took me in and treated me as his own. But my grandpa taught me a lot of stuff, from my job to how to treat people. He taught me to be the man I am today.
Q: What is your spouse’s name?
A: Jessica Peak.
Q: Do you have children?
A: We have two children with one on the way that will be here sometime in October. Emilia is 3, and Thomas is 1.
Q: If you could have anything for your last meal on earth, what would it be?
A: I’d get my mom to cook me a good homemade dinner. It would probably consist of a country fried steak with white gravy, black eyed peas, ranch potato salad and sweet tea. That’s my kind of eating right there.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: I’ve always wanted to go to Alaska just to see what it’s like. I’d love to go see the scenery. One day I’m going. I’ve been pretty much all over the United States with my grandpa over the years.
Q: What hobbies do you like to do in your spare time?
A: I volunteer and like to do that. I like to spend time with my kids and wife. Family time is very important to me. I like to shoot my guns, fish and hunt, too.
Q: What do you enjoy about Columbia and Marion County?
A: I’ve come to know a good many people, and there’s some really good people that live here. I work with a great group of guys with the fire department. Everybody has been very encouraging and very helpful. Everybody that I know has helped me in some kind of way. I’ve learned from everybody. It’s a very good county to live in.
Q: If you could have lunch with anyone from your life or history, who would it be and why?
A: I’d love to have a lunch with my grandpa again. I’d love to sit back down with him and just be with him one more time. We were really close.
Q: If you didn’t have to worry about money, what would you do all day?
A: I’d have me the biggest pontoon boat Bass Pro Shop sells. I’d have a camp somewhere on a big lake and spend my time on the water a lot. I’d have a boat and a camper, and I’d travel and fish.
Q: Using one word for each, what are your top three morals?
A: Honesty, kindness and integrity.
Q: How would you like to be remembered?
A: I want to be remembered as somebody that was always there to help and lend a hand in a time of need no matter what the situation is. I don’t want anybody to look at me and say all he did was gripe and complain.
— Joshua Campbell
Pictured Above: Columbia Fire Department firefighter Zachery Peak just graduated from the fire academy last month and is responsible for responding to many of the emergency calls that come into the station. Peak said that he likes being able to help people more than anything and that he’s learned to always be kind in every scenario because first responders are there during the community’s darkest hours. | Photo by Joshua Campbell