March 21, 2012 - “I’ll be home no later than one o’clock,” I said as I headed out the door on Saturday morning. And then, as an afterthought, added “unless we get a structure fire, then you’re on your own buddy,” and laughed.
By Jennifer Grigg
I had made arrangements with a fellow firefighter to do some driver training (just to get the feel of the truck again because, let’s face it, I haven’t driven one in more than four years), and maybe throw in some pump ops refresher while we’re at it (I have my pump ops course but again, haven’t been a pump operator in the last four years either).
So we met at the hall, went over the pump panel and some basic pump operations, and then we decided to head out. Driving up the highway we discussed various water sources, drafting and the different portable pumps we carry and their applications.
As we approached the north end of our station’s response area, tones went out across the truck radio. We looked at each other wide eyed and he said, “Those aren’t our tones,” and then the next set went out and I said, “But those are!” Driver training had just taken on a whole new vibe.
“Get your lights on,” my fellow firefighter said, “and get over to the left lane.” Then he laughed. “As if, what are the odds?”
I just shook my head. “I’m telling you, never a dull moment with me.” I replied.
Once we were turned around and headed south bound, there were two ways we could get to the call. One was to take the highway back to the main road that runs into where the call was, and the other was to take a closer (but extremely windy-up-down-bendy) road. My fellow firefighter decided on the second of the two options. “OK, here we go . . . ,” I think to myself. “Eeeeeeee!” which, for you men out there, translates to “Yippee, I’m driving the pumper to a structure fire!” (I also thought that this was going to be a great opportunity to get some time on the pump panel, with guidance from my fellow firefighter.)
After successfully making it down said windy-up-down-bendy road and not making my passenger throw up (despite him saying “I’m gonna’ throw up”), we pulled up at the scene behind our tanker. It was clear at this point that our truck wouldn’t be used for a water supply as the residence was on the water and a portable pump had been set up, and there was already a pumper and tanker being used at the scene.
My next thought was “Yay! Maybe I’ll get to put a pack on and go in! Even better than running the pump!!” As I jumped out of the truck and grabbed my gear, the captain who was with the tanker looked at me and said, “You stay, he goes. You drove the truck, you stay with it.” Despite my balloon obviously deflating, I fought the urge to pout (it’s not very becoming, and totally not allowed on fire scenes). I chocked the wheels, grabbed a portable radio and went over to the captain.
“It’s fun driving the truck, isn’t it?” He said, and then laughed. I just smiled. (At least I think I did. In retrospect, it may have looked more like a pout.)
I was starting to get used to the idea that I was going to be spending my time at this call out on the road with the truck and wasn’t going to see any of it (we were staged on the road because the driveway was congested enough with the trucks that were already in there).
Fortunately for me, after about 20 minutes, command called for another firefighter to come in to the scene to help, and I was the only other firefighter there with the captain. I thought I was “stuck” with the truck so I didn’t even get my hopes up, but was pleasantly surprised when the captain said, “Get your gear, you’re going in.” I just about skipped back to the truck to grab my coat and gloves. I think I overheard him later say “You should’ve seen the look on her face when I told her to go.” I’m such an open book!
Long story short, it turned out to be a great day for “driver” training (very realistic), it was a good save as far as the structure was concerned (excellent response by firefighters), and I discovered that I have ESP when it came to predicting calls (much to the chagrin of my significant other, who had been waiting at home for me to go to Toronto with him after my driver training).
Luckily for me, he couldn’t really give me any grief about it because he’s a volunteer too and he knows how it is. He also suggested that I buy a lottery ticket.