Tuesday, January 17, 2012

There's Nothing Funny About Firefighting Training

As most of you know, I started Firefighter training earlier this month.

Let me just say, there is a LOT more to being a fireman than calendars and parades.

Like Tenderloin frys. AND Pancake Breakfasts.

But seriously, I never thought there would be more to learn than which way to point the hose when spraying water.

Example: The other night we learned there are about 50 different types of electrical meters. You have to know the differences and how to pull each one, unless you want to be electrocuted.

Who knew?

There has been a lot of that kind of stuff.

Basically, we sit in class each night and learn all the potential ways we can die.

And if that's not enough, they show us videos of it happening to reinforce the death factor.

Sure, we learn cool stuff too, like how the leading cause of Arson fires is from friction.

It's generated by the mortgage papers rubbing against the insurance policy.

But seriously, there is a lot of mental stuff to this.

AND there is the physical stuff too.

Which brings me to this past Saturday. Saturday was our first experience working in our "Turnout" or "Bunker" gear (i.e. Fireman suit)
-Pants
-Rubber Boots
-Coat
-Nomex hood
-Helmet
-Gloves
-SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) Mask & Air tank

About 25-30 pounds of life-saving fire-resistant layers & gear that make up the Firefighters personal protection equipment.

Our first task was to build confidence in our equipment by completing the SCBA Confidence Course.

Basically, we had to crawl around on all fours following a hose line, while wearing all that shit and breathing a limited air supply, to complete various tasks and overcome obstacles.

Did I mention we were basically blindfolded?

Yeah, they had us put our Nomex hoods on backwards. Couldn't see shit.

It sucked.

Here is a video of the exact course I completed. See for yourself:



Paul Thompson from the video is the same instructor I had. Great guy.

I'm not sure I built much confidence in my gear though. My SCBA malfunctioned, causing me to lose all my air and not be able to breathe. Twice. The first time right in the middle, and they made me fix it and start over. Thankfully, the second malfunction happened after I completed it the second time, because I would not have been able to do it a third time. I was BEAT!

However, I did build confidence in myself for not giving up and for completing the course, which is something several of the more experienced guys in the class were not able to do.

5 comments:

Sarah Pearson said...

This looks like incredibly hard work. My admiration for you has just risen.

Angie said...

So all those years I smoked will actually come in handy if I ever have to go through firefighter training! I was a runner when I was a smoker. Since I stopped I became a jogger.

I am also usually blind to most things that prove later to be pretty damned important... so the blindfolded part would be like second nature!

Are you guys hiring?

Coffeypot said...

I was talking to some firemen (not hitting up on them - that's mooooog's job) and I asked them how they could stand it working in the summer with 90+ degrees outside plus the heat from the fire, the pressure of fighting the fire safely in all that gear. They said that is why there are multiple trucks at a fire because they can only work in 15 minute shifts with 30 off. The do earn their pay fo sho.

hotpants™ said...

It's a hard job for sure. My husband went through all of this. They have what they call Hell Night here in Memphis. A guy nearly died when he went through the simulation trailer blindfolded. He's actually still pretty messed up. Now, they have an age limit. You can't be over "such & such age" and still be a fireman. Crazy that it took that happening for a rule to be in place... They also don't abuse them quite as badly on Hell Night. It was a big deal here when it happened six or seven years ago. I think there's still an ongoing lawsuit.

Pat said...

Kudos to you for not giving up! I watched the video - incredible! I don't think I could do the course without a blindfold!

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