Saturday, October 10, 2009

the cream of the crop

I need to go back and make a repair on my October 5 entry. One of my readers pointed out that I referred to the volunteers as not being the cream of the crop . . . definitely the wrong thing to say about a group of people who just gave up the better part of four days to run the gauntlet of firefighter training. My comment wasn't intended to demean anyone . . . actually I was trying (in my bumbling way) to compliment these folks. They toughed out some extreme conditions, even though many of them weren't in peak physical condition. Firefighter survival training is no picnic, career, volunteer, it doesn't matter. The impressive thing is these folks stuck it out.

Getting into a career department is no picnic either. I know. I gave it a shot last winter. I passed the written exam, then spent a few months preparing for the fitness testing by hauling an eighty pound pack up and down stairs, running on a rebounder, doing sit ups . . . and got as far as the shuttle run during the testing. I just didn't have the wind to do it. I could make excuses like . . . I was 47 years old (but they hired a 48 year old the year before) . . . or that I spent most of the night before the test fighting a fire in -30 weather (but that's what firefighters do for a living) . . . but the bottom line was, I didn't make it in . . . so when I talk about people not being the cream of the crop, I'm right there with them.

Volunteer departments in these parts often don't require their new recruits to pass the same physical tests as their career counterparts. I know my department doesn't. We can't afford to turn anyone away. Click here and here for a couple articles I wrote about how we recruit. We still get out there and do the job, often putting in longer hours and working with less people than our career counterparts who are protected by union contracts. I'm not bashing the career guys either . . . hey, I don't bash anyone. Poke fun, tease, and maybe even satirize, but never bash. We're all out there accomplishing our portion of the mission, and we might as well laugh at ourselves along the way.

Here are some photos of last weekend's training, compliments of Ian, who somehow managed to smuggle a camera past me. This first one is roof ventilation.

Next, here is a view of what it looks like inside after a lot of the smoke clears.

This is what it looks like before we vent. If the window wasn't open, the whole thing would be black . . . which would have been realistic but it makes for a boring photo.

That's me in the middle taking everyone's last will and testament before making entry.

Here they are, the cream of the crop, the survivors, the ones that made it through the weekend. That's me kneeling in the front with the funny hairdo.

And this is snow on October 10th. Sorry Graham, I stole this off your facebook page. I tried to ask permission, but you weren't talking to me.

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