Spotswood firefighter talks about his job at Port Authority

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COURTESY OF THE PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY
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COURTESY OF THE PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY
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COURTESY OF THE PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY
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COURTESY OF THE PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY
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COURTESY OF THE PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY
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COURTESY OF THE PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY
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COURTESY OF THE PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY
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COURTESY OF THE PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY

SPOTSWOOD–While assisting in handling emergencies for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Spotswood resident Robert Drako continues to serve as a volunteer firefighter for his community.

Drako, who has lived in Spotswood his entire life, is currently a volunteer with the Spotswood Fire Department.

“Growing up my mother was an EMT and my father is still an EMT and a firefighter with me. Needless to say, it was something that I grew up around and I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else,” Drako said.

Drako has been a volunteer firefighter since he turned 16 in 2003 and still volunteers there to this day.

“I really enjoy helping the people in and around my community and look forward to taking on any challenges that are thrown at us,” Drako said. “That’s why the Port Authority has been such a great fit for me as the family-like culture is very close to that of the fire department and EMS.”

When he is not putting out fires in the borough, Drako works for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as a senior tunnel and bridge agent (STBA), which in the field is also referred to as a crew chief.

“All TBAs and STBAs are responsible for responding to all non-police emergencies at all of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Hudson River crossings,” Drako said. “These emergencies can be anything from debris in the roadway, disabled vehicles, fires, motor vehicle accidents or medical calls. In a nutshell, we’re responsible for patron safety, property protection and expediting traffic.”

Drako said in June he will be completing his seventh year with the Port Authority.

“At the time, I had just finished college and was looking for a job when a friend approached me and said he saw a posting for the Port Authority, and he thought my resume fit it,” Drako said. “At the time, I had no idea what the Port had done or how big of a company it was, so I figured it was a long shot.”

Drako said after applying and going through the testing process he still didn’t believe he would get the job until the day he was called to be hired. After getting in though, it was clear how lucky he was.

“The part I love most [about my job] is the people I get to work with. It’s very much like a huge family,” Drako said. “Second, I would say is the fact that no day is ever the same. Everyday we find ourselves encountering new or odd challenges. No day is like the last.”

Drako said he also worked as a per diem EMT in Monroe from early 2007 until a few years ago when he was promoted at the Port Authority and no longer had the time to ride there anymore.

“Although the [Port Authority] chose to recognize me, I looked at it as an opportunity for our unit and my co-workers to gain recognition for all the hard work they do every day,” Drako said. “Our work is usually going on backstage and most people just know that traffic which was stopped is now moving. So it’s an amazing opportunity to let people know who’s behind the scenes making sure traffic flows smoothly and everyone is safe.”

For more information about the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, visit www.panynj.gov/about/.

Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@newspapermediagroup.com.