Son follows in Farmington Hills firefighter dad’s footsteps

From the time Ka’dan Barnes learned to walk, he has followed in his father’s footsteps.

The 18-year-old son of veteran Farmington Hills Fire Inspector Stan Barnes spent many hours at Fire Department headquarters on 11 Mile Road. These days, he’s studying there to become a full-fledged firefighter.

Kadan Barnes
Kadan Barnes graduated this year from Michigan Connections Academy. (contributed)

“The minute I stepped into a fire station and saw those trucks, I knew that was something I wanted to do in my life,” Ka’dan said. “Every step in my life was leading here.”

Virtual high school

That included choosing a virtual option for school. He earned his high school diploma through Michigan Connections Academy.

“The virtual path was a blessing, but it took a minute to grow on me,” Ka’dan said, adding that the flexible schedule allowed him to pursue Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification. “The teachers were very helpful. The biggest thing I learned was patience and how to manage my time wisely.”

Fire Chief Jon Unruh said then 17-year-old Ka’dan first approached him last fall about becoming a firefighter. Even though the minimum age was 18, “we embraced his eagerness and allowed him to enter an EMT class.”

“Scholastically, he rose to the top of the class,” Unruh said. “That made me real proud. I could tell his heart and passion were there. At 18, we made him a paid employee.”

Farmington Hills Fire family

Stan Barnes, whose career with the department spans 20-plus years, said Unruh has been a supportive role model for his family and “very instrumental in channeling Ka’dan’s future by giving concrete direction.” 

Stan Barnes Ka'dan Barnes Jon Unruh
From left: Firefighter Stan Barnes, Ka’dan Barnes, and Fire Chief Jon Unruh

Both Stan Barnes and Unruh describe the Farmington Hills Fire Department as a family. Barnes said that dynamic, plus the training Ka’dan will receive, leave him with no reservations about his son’s career choice.

Farmington Voice Paid SubscriptionsUnruh also understands what it means to have a loved one in the field; fire and police service run in his own family.

“It is a safe career, a great career, and a great way to make a living,” he said.

While Ka’dan has other interests–music, cooking, and fitness among them–he sees firefighting as a long-time career. He’ll attend firefighting school, then job-shadow before going into the field with a partner.

While still a teenager, Ka’dan will face life-threatening situations and life-saving responsibilities.

“Sometimes, I do feel the pressure,” he said, “but I know that it’s a practice and a journey. I live for the experience.”


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