Marcel Melanson didn't have it easy growing up in Inglewood, California. His father was in and out of his life, his mom struggled with drug abuse, and his brother died at an early age. "I wanted a sense of belonging, a sense of family," he says. "The streets were an easy place to turn." But rather than join a gang, he found a different surrogate clan: firefighters. "A lot of people say they joined the fire department to help people," Melanson says. "I joined to help myself."
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