Category Archives: Firefighting

Nobody Goes Camping for the Food

MB_CookingA Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly,courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. Culinary geniuses they ain’t.

After spending a weekend with my son’s Boy Scout troop on a tailgate camping trip I’ve decided that it will be my personal mission to see every one of these fine young men earn his Cooking Merit Badge. Hey, I’m not fussy -and I love bacon, hot dogs, hamburgers, runny eggs, potato chips, and donuts as much as the next guy- but it is my belief that an important measure of manhood is found in the kitchen.

Just stop by my firehouse if you don’t believe me. Cooking is a skill that’s rated very highly in the firefighting community. We’ve got plenty of guys who can throw a ladder or swing an axe, but if you can make dinner for forty people? That’s something special.

Boys it’s time to cook. And remember: this isn’t just about preserving the health of your adult leaders, it’s about impressing girls.

Rude Awakening

It’s well documented that heart attacks kill more firefighters than fires, but I’ve been wondering  how many of those deaths are caused by pagers going off in the middle of the night.

You have never been jolted out of a deep sleep until you’ve been awakened by the Motorola pagers we use to tell us there’s an alarm. Maybe having an Australian Shepherd jump on your head is comparable , but that’s a story for another day. The video below gives you an idea of the sound you hear when there’s a call. Turn your speakers ALL THE WAY UP for the full effect:

That would get your sorry butt out of bed, wouldn’t it?

The good news: the second that pager beeps I am responding to a call. So if it goes off and I stand up and keel over dead or fall down the stairs or something it’s considered a line of duty death. In that case I’ll be entitled to the big fancy firefighter funeral —but unfortunately I’ll be way too dead to enjoy it.

Things That Go Boom In The Night

It was about 2am and the fire department was dispatched to a hazardous condition call: a tree limb resting on power lines around the block. I was already awake because there was a hell of an explosion when they touched.

When we pulled up in the fire truck, every light on the street was on. People stood around on their front steps, clustered on the street, straining their necks to see the show in the backyard on the corner. The high voltage line was spitting out sparks and glowing in bright hues of blue and gold. Very impressive.

I’d seen all of these people before, walking dogs, cutting their grass…but I’d never seen so many of them at one time. A woman came up and told us to be careful of her vegetable garden, which is just in front of the sparky wire. I wanted to tell her, “Don’t worry, lady. We’re not going anywhere near that wire,” but when you put on the fire gear you don’t want people to think you’re afraid of being electrocuted. Instead, I thanked her for the info. Another person was wondering how we’d extinguish the burning branch and sparking wires. Once again, I reined in my tongue. Good thing, because I almost said, “We’re going to spray water on it. And if you like, we’ll let you hold the nozzle. You might feel a slight tingle.”

As in many situations, keeping your mouth shut is not a bad policy. Like the old saying goes, better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. And your neighbors will be less impressed with your community service if you give them wise-ass answers.

Fired Up

At forty-six, you don’t bounce back the way you used to. Actually, I’m not sure you bounce at all. I took a firefighting class over the weekend and spent a fair amount of time crawling around on my hands and knees, climbing through windows, and dangling from ladders. When people hear you do this stuff, they talk about how it’s noble work and it’s great that you’re serving the community, and so on —but the truth is that it’s fun. When you’re eight-years-old and you see your father running out to fire calls, jumping on the trucks, and hanging out with the guys at the firehouse it leaves a powerful impression. It looks like fun when you’re eight and it looked like fun five years ago when I finally joined up. And fun it is.

But boy, am I sore.