Sunday, May 14, 2006

Come On Baby Light My Fire

One day last fall, I decided to volunteer with our town’s all volunteer fire department. So, one night I went on down to the station and met with the Captain. He invited me to go out on a training run with the firefighters. Oh boy! A dream come true; it was so exciting!

I heard that Sue was thinking about becoming a firefighter. That is so hot!

Downstairs, where they keep the fire trucks, there were about 20 guys ranging in age from 16 to 70 (average age 30- 40 years) and one gal of about 18 years listing to tonight’s plan as given by the scene commander. We were going to the town’s garage parking lot to perform an extraction on a wrecked car that had been donated for this purpose. Everyone knew what they had to do, was putting on their turnouts, and where to go, except me.

Fortunately, an elder fire policeman took me under his wing and instructed me to get into the emergency truck, the one that carries fire rescue equipment, with the other guys. It was really narrow in the truck kind of like the inside of a boat. Equipment lined the truck from floor to ceiling: boots, tanks, helmets, water, flashlights, first aid kits, etc. The windows were really tiny. We took off from the firehouse with lights, but no sirens. We didn’t want to alarm the neighborhood. The truck swayed not unlike a boat and all eight or so of us flew back and forth into each other until I found a hand grip rail. One of the drivers hollered back, “No sea sickness now!”

All this time I was changing into big (the smallest ones they had), heavy, steel-shank and metal toed boots that went up to my crotch, donning a turnout jacket with metal toggles (which I did up wrong) and a helmet under the direction of the most senior guy on the truck. I was also handed a flash light and work gloves. The one gal was also on our truck and she was quite pretty with long blonde hair. Even though I know our town pretty well, I lost track of where we were with all that was going on.

Too hot for you, boy. I'll handle her.

Suddenly we arrived at our destination and the truck stopped. When I got out, the boots were so big and heavy that they slid off and hit the ground before I did. The other two trucks were already there, the site was brightly lit and gear was laid out in an organized fashion on tarps on the ground. I quickly found the elder fire policeman on the periphery and stayed with him out of everyone’s way. Apparently nothing could happen without our truck, since we had the Jaws of Life on board.

The car had been in a front end accident and was totaled. The firefighters had already had a head start on removing the wind shield before we arrived. Cars have three pairs of posts, the posts supporting the wind shield are the A posts, the ones between the front and back seats are the B posts, and the ones that support the rear wind shield are the C posts. There were two hydraulic Jaws of Life units on our truck. One was 80 pounds and the other was 60 pounds. The car doors were removed with the Jaws, the A posts were cut right and left, then the B’s.

When it came to cutting the C posts, the commander came over and invited me to try one with the 60 pound Jaws of Life. I was so excited all I could say is, “Really, can I?”

“Yes, you can.” answered the commander in charge of the scene.

Smokin' hot! I gotta cool off!

So, I went to it. I took the Jaws as handed carefully to me by the most senior guy on my truck, and spotted closely behind by the gal from my truck; I cut the C post as close to the car as possible in two nips, since the post flared at the bottom where it met the car body. I was stunned at how well the Jaws’ was ergonomically designed. One crosswise upright handle was at the midsection, supporting all of the weight, the other was a continuation at the end most distant from the cutting end and rotated to open or close the jaws. I could not even sense the weight at all. Maybe it was just my adrenaline. Plus, the machine does all of the work. It was kind of like using a chainsaw without the noise, vibration or kickback. I was instructed not to get in between the Jaws and the car and to cut as close to the body of the vehicle as possible so that no one could get cut on the car posts. Lengths of hose that lay on the ground were pointed out to me by the senior guy as to be used to put over the posts if this had not been training to prevent injury to victims or firefighters. I felt like such a part of the team; supported in all ways.

Then I was instructed to bring the Jaws back to the truck, which I did, careful not to tangle the wires with any others from lights or the other Jaws unit. So, there I stood, holding that piece of equipment facing away from the scene, while the other Jaws was stowed, wires were untangled. It was really sometime later that I turned around and saw the roof of the car had been totally removed while I was busy.

Then it was back into the truck for the ride back to the firehouse. We each slugged down a bottle of water on the way back as we took off our turnouts. We were debriefed once we arrived. At some point, the commander asked why lengths of hose would be placed on cut posts. No one answered and I thought that they’ve got to know it. But, the senior guy looked at me and said, “I know you know this one.” So I answered it correctly. Afterwards, we all chatted and I felt like a part of the team. There was an overwhelming sense of camaraderie and purpose that we were all there to save lives and property and each other that came across as old calls were discussed. What a pleasant change from office back stabbing and scheming.

The whole exercise took about 2 hours and was a complete blast. The next day, my body felt as if I had done some real physical labor. You know, good pains, like from a good work out.

Guys, I was so hot I had to get naked.

Please support your local Firefighters.

Photo credit for naked firefighter to Oh La La Paris


Ryan said...

hot damn light me up anytime!

thanx 4 the well wishes and i am gonna give u a shout out sometiime this week on my blog!

Sue said...

Glad to hear that you are feeling better Ryan! You are more than welcome my friend.

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