CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Oregon State catcher Troy Claunch always keeps his stepfather's fire helmet in his room.
It serves as a reminder of where he comes from.
"It's even got a screw missing," Claunch says.
Claunch's stepfather, Mark Audiffred, worked for the Richmond Fire Department in Northern California for more than 30 years. Claunch would spend weekends at the fire station.
“I got to go on a lot of ride-alongs and I got to go on the fire calls," Claunch said. "I got to experience it first-hand, what they put themselves through and what they risk to save other people.”
When the recent extreme wildfires began burning in Oregon it hit home for Claunch.
“Just seeing the impact it has on everybody and how damaging it can be, it’s pretty scary," Claunch said. "Thankfully we have people out there that can help everybody else.”
Claunch wants to follow his family's footsteps and become a firefighter after he graduates. He plans on taking fire science courses while pursuing a professional baseball career.
“We need people like that," Claunch said. "There comes a time where you’re going to have to call on someone to lend a hand. We’re going to need people to extend that hand.”
Claunch is the presumed starting catcher for Oregon State next season. But he can't wait to trade in that baseball helmet for a fire helmet of his own one day.
“I think that in the world we are in today it’s really important to be conscientious of helping other people," Claunch said. "I think firefighters are a great example of that.”