Firefighters always benefit from training, but so does the community. The more efficient we are, the better our reactions in a real emergency. For that reason, our fire department hosted an all-day training event Saturday. Firefighters practiced SCBA skills, nozzles, search and rescue and live fire fighting.
I played a victim for search and rescue. I felt a bit like I’d been typecast into the helpless female role, but I did get the chance to run back in to cause havoc. 🙂 Dan took this picture while I was waiting for rescue.
Below are some guys practicing with the nozzles while the chief gives pointers. Patterns are important when attacking fire. Some situations call for the straight pattern while others need the fog with a wider spray. This practice is needed because in an emergency situation, firemen wear heavy gear that includes thick gloves. The clicks are different and depend on the type of nozzle used. Practice minimizes errors.
The Mullen firefighters (and ambulance crew) take training seriously. After two nights of class room instruction (3.5 hours each night) at the fire hall, “driving day” finally arrived. I’ll admit to being a bit nervous. Most of the firemen have driven huge trucks for years, so I knew I couldn’t do any better than they would. I also knew I was going to hear about women drivers forever if I screwed up even a little. Nobody’s perfect, right?
Starting the course….
My time to drive was 9:40, but I showed up early and brought my camera (of course!). The state yard was full of cones. To run the full course, the driver had to leave the loading dock area, go forward between the small cones, reverse all the way to the beginning, swing a wide turn and enter the “gate” which consisted of two tall cones. After going forward to make a three-point turn, the driver would exit and enter the serpentine course. The driver then had to go all the way to the end of the cones, reverse through them before completing the serpentine pattern going forward. Reverse was the bane of my existence. A tight turn was in order to make the next gate; after that was the lane shift. For me, that was the easiest part. An easy loop was next. The turn led to the straight stretch and the stop. Stopping at a cone that is not visible can be really tricky. The driver was penalized for touching the cones in the course as well as for being too far away from the “stop” cone. I was so proud when Josh measured only two inches between the truck and the cone! The chief even gave me a thumbs up! 🙂 Josh actually had a tape measure for that purpose.
All of the drivers did a great job while having a good time!
Here’s the stretch and the “stop” cone.
This simulated the loading dock at the end of the course.
Driving a rig is hard enough, but when you can hear the guys laughing across the lot, it’s nearly impossible to focus!
Clean up was a snap.
The trainer’s rig had plenty of cones.
Gear is ready to go!
After taking the Recruitment and Retention workshop at fire school in May, I realized there’s a lot of pieces to the puzzle. I feel pressured to keep reading and asking questions. We have a lot of experienced firemen in our department, so the newbies should take advantage of that knowledge. Most of the guys have forgotten more than I will ever learn! That being said, we all do monthly training so we will be sharp when a call comes. Having the gear ready is the easy part!
Many hours have been put in to create a training center for our department and firefighters in the surrounding area. The guys want to be able to practice rope rescue skills along with everything else.
Our department has a brand new Facebook page: Mullen VFD Community. Go check it out. There are quite a few pictures already there, and more will be added as time permits. The new page is part of our marketing effort, so feel free to share the link, comment, etc.
Last night the fire department had a fundraiser. The guys cooked pulled pork and brisket, and there were cookies, drinks, beans and chips to go along with the main course. The boot was set out, and all donations were welcome for a meal.
It looked like half the town (or more) showed up for supper! Awesome! I was running a few minutes late due to a bout of “words with friends” on Facebook (thanks, David!). Moving on….when I arrived, the guys asked if I had seen the banner I had made for the department. It was hanging on the gate. I went around to take a look. The guys were very happy with it; it could be seen for blocks! Thank you, Lyndsay, for making me look smart! She did all of the work; I just chose the design.
I usually am not much of a carnivore, but I didn’t have lunch. I was hungry! The guys loaded up my plate, and I took it home to eat. I hate eating in crowded places. (Yes, I know I’m weird.) That food was some of the BEST ever! Now I know why we have a good crowd when the guys cook.
Aside from the benefit of great cooking, firefighters are a valuable asset to any community. Fire departments across the nation need volunteers. If you are interested in being involved, please contact your local department. You are needed!
I hope everyone had a happy 4th of July! The Mullen Volunteer Fire Department always has a fireworks show, so I guess I kind of took it all for granted. I never realized just how much work went into the fireworks display! This year, I participated instead of just watching, and I learned a lot!
I had no idea the hours of prep time that the firefighters need to have an hour’s show. (This doesn’t include the firework stand the guys run for almost two weeks before the 4th.) Early in the evening, the department guys gathered to separate and pack the fireworks into boxes and set up launchers at the fair grounds. I had worked somewhere else for a few hours more than planned, so I was running late for that meeting. After a supper break, they met back at the fire hall. I made it this time. More sorting and unpacking took place, and we finally got our gear, loaded into the rigs and went to unload everything else. We had to gear up before the show started. As soon as the guys were ready (and it was dark enough to give a spectacular show), the sky lit up with colors. What a show! On the way out, one person said it was the best show in 20 years! We took in a substantial amount in donations, but the fancy display in the sky cost the department many hours of work and about $3000 for the fireworks. Not many people realize that.
After everyone had left, the firefighters had to stay and clean up by flash lights and the headlights of the rigs. Once the mess was clean, the launchers themselves had to be cleaned out and gear stowed. I left before some of the guys, and I got home at 11 p. m. There were at least 10 firefighters working to make the show possible. That is volunteer time for our community. The next time you watch a fireworks display and the donation boot is out, remember all the time invested to make it happen!