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Not Always A Firefighter
- Mar 06, 2018 -

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Capt. Meffert has not always been a firefighter. He joined the U.S. Navy right after high school in 1989 and served seven years 

as a hospital corpsman. He initially wanted to pursue being a corpsman for physical therapy and started working at a small 

facility at Naval Air Station Lemoore. Soon after, he got called up for the Persian Gulf and was assigned to the ICU with USNS 

Mercy. “Every day, we had doctors and nurses that would sit down and give us lectures based on what the potential events we 

could see for injuries and what would be coming to us if we had this war.” It was during this time that Capt. Meffert’s interests 

changed from physical therapy to medicine. Once he left the Persian Gulf, he was assigned to a naval base off the coast of 

Japan and worked at another small facility’s ICU. “On the days where we weren’t busy, we went to work in the ER and that’s 

where I started having more passion for emergency medicine.” He later came back to San Diego for the last part of his seven-

year tour and brought back the knowledge he gained in Japan. “I got out in 1996. I spent four years, from 1992 to 1996, doing 

emergency medicine. When I got out of the Navy, my goal was to go to PA school.” Capt. Meffert was in the process of 

submitting his paperwork for PA school when he ended up moving to Catalina Island for the summer. “I ended up staying here. I 

pulled out of school and lived on the island.” Soon after, an opportunity presented itself with the Avalon Fire Department when 

the chief approached Capt. Meffert about his interest in becoming a reserve firefighter. “I said I would take a look at it, I started 

going to their drills and eventually I was hooked.” Capt. Meffert was brought on with the department in 2000 to serve as a full-

time/part- time member to cover members who were sick or on holiday. He was later hired on full-time in 2002. And for the past 

19 years, he has lived and worked on Catalina Island. However, in the last two years, he relocated and now lives in Orange 

County, Calif. –exactly four miles away from Frank and Janan Pisano’s house. “If I had lived on the island still, then I would never 

have been in the area that day.”