Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Workaholic, Stephen Harper, Jekyll and Hyde, and other unrelated topics

There is a logical reason why I am so exhausted. It's actually quite simple. The College's air packs have gained weight, the Thunder Bay fire tower has grown a couple storeys higher, the temperature of fire has increased by several hundred degrees, and the days now have twenty-six hours instead of twenty-four.

Alternately, I'm just getting older and wimpier.

Whatever the real reason, I'm looking forward to two weekends off before hitting the road again. Working two jobs for fifty days straight was an interesting experience, but it will be nice to kick back and enjoy a little sunshine and spring. Hopefully no one will tell the black flies that the snow is gone. That would ruin the pleasant effect of a long weekend.

I did have a 'sort of' break during the first week of May at the OAFC conference. At least I was under the illusion that I was having a break, because I wasn't swimming in ice water or crawling into burning fire towers. The problem lay in Erinn not being there to tell me to go to bed at night, so instead of sleeping I stayed up late networking and blogging and researching. Don't say it. I know that I'm my own worst enemy. Fortunately, I have the next two weekends off to catch up on work around the house, blogging, and sleep, not necessarily in that order.

My latest post at the CVFSA blog is up now. I took the opportunity to write Stephen Harper a friendly letter reminding him that firefighters are nice people, and that he promised to increase our numbers. Unfortunately, two links that I included to jog his memory didn't make it through to the final version. I posted them a while ago, but you can see them here and here.

I've been a fire chief for just over fifteen years now, and I believe I am finally beginning to think like one . . . or at least I'm developing a dual personality of sorts. The practical, caring, Firefighter Jekyll in me is sometimes challenged by the cautious, liability-minded Chief Hyde. We arrived at the scene of a grass fire last week to find a young man walking his dog within a few feet of a very obviously live hydro line. The firefighter side of me said, "He's an idiot, but I'm glad he didn't get fricasseed." The chief side of me said, "Get that idiot out of there before he gets fricasseed and someone says it's my fault."

We got him out of there, then had to decide what to do with the live wire. The area around it was burned and didn't pose much of a fire hazard anymore, but there was always the possibility of another traveller walking his dog next to it, or using it for a jump rope, or thinking it would make a nice laundry line. Hydro wasn't going to be on scene for a few hours, and I have enough experience babysitting hydro lines to fill several resumes, so I wasn't keen on sticking around.

The practical firefighter side of me said, "It's ten kilometres away from the village in no-man's land. Just leave it. It's not your problem." The litigation-minded fire chief side of me countered with, "I don't want to get sued because some idiot gets fried and blames me for leaving the wire."

Firefighter Jekyll and Fire Chief Hyde finally shook hands and agreed to a compromise. I stretched a yellow hazard tape around the area and headed back to the hall. The odd thing is that it didn't make the scene much safer - people that hang laundry on live wires aren't slowed down by yellow tape - but it may have been viewed by the courts as a small amount of due diligence if someone did get zapped. Chief Hyde might have gotten the upper hand on this one.

I'm out of time and have written enough to take the edge off my lack-of-blogging withdrawal symptoms, so you'll have to wait again for my conference thoughts. I'll leave you with a couple links:

This Fire Engineering site has information about air management, and a link to download a free video on the subject. Free stuff is always good, especially if it's training related.

Here's an OFM site called FireChat that offers a wheelbarrow load of fire service social media links. The Upsala Fire Department Facebook page and my blog are on the list now, thanks to a friendly OFM staff named Martha, whom I met at the OAFC conference.

Firefighters1st is raising funds to help the volunteer fire departments at Slave Lake, which was recently ravaged by a forest fire. You can check out their site here (note: I just checked the site and am not sure it's working, but if you are interested in helping, contact Firefighters1st through their Facebook page).

Here is another Facebook page that contains links if you want to help the folks at Slave lake.

And finally, some very good news: the world is not going to end on May 21st. I'm happy about that because I had plans for the weekend. It is, after all, my first weekend off since the end of March.

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