Just so you’ll know -- I’ve decided not to quit my writing career to become a firefighter.
I came close to flunking Thursday evening when we had to don all the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), including a 40-pound SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus). But, I did make it through the burned-out training building, holding onto someone’s arm because I couldn’t wear my glasses with that face mask on, and couldn’t see a blinkin’ thing.
I wasn’t quite in panic mode, but close to it. I am such a wimp. So they took me back to the starting point and helped me take off the mask and air tank. Then, when I stopped hyperventilating, I joined the rest of the group.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. This was our first view of the Gwinnett County Fire Academy Burn Building:
Then we went inside a different building to get into our gear.
Trevor had his on already,
so I handed him my camera:
That coat alone is HEAVY, but if I were in a burning building with a temp between 400 and 1,200 degrees, I should think I’d appreciate all the protection I could get. As you can see, the top of the pants were nowhere near my waist, so the next step was the bright red suspenders (no picture of that).
Then we learned how everything went on properly, and watched as one of the instructors showed us how to do it right, so we could make it through the obstacle course.
One of the people helping us was Lt. Wade Crider, the arson investigator who told me he’d help me get my facts right for BROWN AS FUDGE, the next mystery in the Biscuit McKee Series.
We didn’t have to go over the stones of through the barrels -- thank goodness. Imagine crawling through one of these, hauling a fire hose, with more than 40 pounds of clothing and gear.
Then we got to watch four of the Fire Explorers go through a training run. The Fire Explorers are young people between the ages of 14 and 19, who “explore” what it means to be a firefighter. The young woman on the right was accepted into the Fire Academy, by the way, and she’ll start as a new recruit next Monday.
They stood at attention and, when the instructor said, “Go,” they donned all their PPE in 46 seconds. I couldn’t take pictures fast enough. The hood, the boots and pants, the snaps, the buckles, the velcro, SCBA with strapping and air hoses, helmet, and gloves, and hands up in the air to show they’d finished. When I donned my SCBA, it took two other people to help me get it up. These Fire Explorers threw their unit up and over their heads, where it settled onto their backs. Very impressive they were. The young woman finished first, incidentally. No wonder they recruited her.
Then they had to pick up a fire hose, climb through a 20” x 20” opening and over an A-shaped obstacle, through a tunnel, pick up the victim (a bundle of fire hose wrapped in pink, in the rough shape of a human body, with arms and legs dangling), and return with the “body” the way they came.
Like I said, I’m not gonna give up my writing job.
Next week: ladders!
p.s. Stop by your neighborhood fire station sometime soon and thank the people there.
BEEattitude for Day #549:
Blessed are those who guard the hive, for they shall be appreciated by the rest of us bees.
The teeny details:
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