Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year

Laying on the couch is easier than playing hide and seek with my inner literary genius. That was the revelatory discovery I made during my blogging holiday (not that I've been laying on the couch since December 24 . . . honest). But now that the holidays are over, my inner literary genius continues to elude me, and the couch continues to call. The only fix is to type, and hope that something intelligible appears on the screen. So here goes.

Upsala Fire Department has a well kept tradition of attending crashes and fires on either New Year's Eve or New Year's Day. Out here on the Far Flung Peripheral Edge of the Universe, we only average between 2 and 3 calls a month, so when a particular date consistently yields a page out or two, we notice.

2010 started out as a record breaking quiet year. Except for a rash of forest fires between April and early June, things stayed slow right up to the middle of November. Then all hell broke loose . . . relatively speaking. If you live in Thunder Bay or Toronto or Los Angeles, 12 calls in 5 weeks is hardly "all hell," but it's at least four times Upsala's monthly average. The streak ended on Christmas Eve (another traditionally busy day).

On New Year's Eve, our call tally for the year was 29. I was uneasy because the fire gremlins like round numbers, but midnight rolled around and the pagers stayed quiet. We weren't awakened at 4:00 AM on New Years morning either, which is another popular time for holiday induced mishaps. New Year's Day ended uneventfully, and tradition was broken. Perhaps 2011 would be another quiet year . . . except that at 01:33 on January 2 we were paged to a vehicle crash east of Upsala. Leave it to the gremlins to act an hour and a half late, just to keep us on our toes.

Speaking of holiday activity, this volunteer crew in New Jersey logged a 67 hour shift. We've done up to 27 hour calls, with some firefighters staying through to the end, but never 67 hours. There are many reasons why you shouldn't work that long, and I'm sure that the Ministry of Labour can (and does) list them in painful detail upon request. But it's hard to say to your neighbour, "Sorry, we're short handed and exhausted, so we'll come back to rake up what's left of your house tomorrow morning." So we stay, and catch up on our sleep later.

This video has made the rounds, and you may have seen it already, but I need to draw your attention away from our unethical overworking policy with an example of why you should always wear your SCBA at any fire:

It's always easier to throw stones at someone else, so while we're on the topic of bashing firefighters, check out Paul Combs' newest cartoon. Everyone does stupid things once in a while. The problem with public service - even thankless, payless public service - is that our stupid things grab the world's attention.

Lest you think I'm a heartless, Scroogey, firefighter basher, here is a cool video that someone passed along last week, called Santa's Fire Truck.

To finish off this disjointed tumble into 2011, here is a New Year's Haiku (Thanks Brian for unknowingly tweaking my inner oriental awareness):

The New Year has come
Banish absurd brainlessness
The world is watching

Happy New Year, take a break when you can, and wear your SCBA at every fire!

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