Mike Golder is bolder than most. When he is not responding to emergencies like raging fires and gruesome car crashes, this 44-year-old regularfoot Firefighter/EMD relishes the adrenaline of airdropping into mutated Mexican tubes and flirting with reef slabs close to home. To decompress, he spearfishes in frigid, shark-patrolled honey holes for dinner for his friends and family.

Surfer and Firefighter Mike Golder with two lobsters

The Sea Shall Provide

Growing up as talented young surfer, Golder surfed competitively and enjoyed the support of sponsors like Freeline Design and Gotcha. After high school, he did the Cabrillo program, taking random classes like marketing and web design, but he still felt lost.

“I did a re-evaluation, looked at my buddies and said to myself, ‘Hey, who’s got the best lifestyle?’. Who’s got a good schedule, stays healthy, and loves what they do?’ All my friends in the Fire Department were those guys.” Golder recounts.

Mike Golder and the SJFD Crew


Accordingly, Golder went through the hell of boot camp and probation (being the station’s bitch for a year) and was able to secure a position with the San Jose Fire Department. In his time on the squad, he has had a few close calls.

“I’ve been on a fire call where we were crawling through the house on the hardwood floor, looking for people who were supposedly trapped,” explains Golder.

Surfer Mike Golder in the barrel

Navigating the Nectar
photo @wetfeetphoto

“The floor kept getting hotter and hotter. I grabbed the guy next to me, we both stopped but the smoke was banked all the way to the floor so you couldn’t see. It turns out the floor had caved into the basement, which was fully involved too. If we would have gone two feet further, we would have fallen through. Who knows what could have happened!”

Firefighter and surfer Mike Golder of Santa Cruz

In the Line of Fire

When contemplating the parallels of heavy water surfing with firefighting, Golder sees many, especially when it comes to keeping cool in a hot situation.

“In order to function well on the job, you have to keep calm and focused. Same with surfing. When you’re out and about in the water and want to keep your heart rate down and relax, you just need to tell yourself that you know what you are doing. Both fire and water can be deadly, so during both you’ve got to stay calm, collected, and calculated.”

Follow Mike on Instagram @golder_route