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April 5, 2012 - With the help of a determined – and clearly very patient! – colleague, volunteer firefighter Jennifer Mabee brushed up on her skills last weekend and learned a few things about transitioning between using the water on the truck to supply the hoseline, and using the pressurized source coming into the truck, while refilling the truck and not interrupting the water supply to the line . . . Quite a feat!

April 5, 2012 – A big ol’ breakfast and a good couple of hours of pump ops training: What more could a girl want?

For the last three weekends, a fellow firefighter and I have met at the hall (after breakfast at a local restaurant, of course) to go over a few things that I feared I may have forgotten. (For those of you who are new to my blog, I returned to the fire department in October after a four-year absence, and had been with the department for ten years prior to that.)

I started a new job on Monday, which has me working out of the fire hall five days a week as a bylaw-enforcement officer, with the fire chief as my new boss. It was important to me to brush up on a few things since I’ll be one of three firefighters who will be the first to respond, as the other two also work in the fire hall (one is our fire prevention officer, and the other is the fleet mechanic.)

However, after a big late-Sunday morning breakfast, and a restless Saturday night sleep, I wasn’t really feeling all that motivated by the time we got to the hall on Sunday. My fellow firefighter and I chatted about a few things but he could tell that I was lacking the enthusiasm for that day’s training.


The thought had already crossed my mind that maybe I could try and steer him into an in depth discussion of something . . . anything . . . that would take up enough time for him to feel that something had been accomplished and that there was no need to take a truck out. It was raining after all (albeit lightly) and I did just get my hair done . . . sorry, but I am a girl and I do have my girly moments!

Unfortunately, that’s not what he had in mind.

He had already come up with a scenario (he has an uncanny knack for doing that) and had decided that today I was going to practice transitioning between using the water on the truck to supply my hoseline and using the pressurized source coming into the truck, while refilling the truck at the same time and not interrupting the water supply to the line, and – let’s not forget – setting the pressure relief valve, and knowing how to determine where it’s set in the first place, and keeping the pressure to my line constant at all times by adjusting the throttle accordingly.

I know there are way too many ands in that last sentence and honestly, I thought he’d totally lost me when he told me that’s what I was going to do. However, he did somehow manage to get the blond girl (correction, blond with dark lowlights) comfortable with switching (somewhat smoothly) between the two water supplies and filling the tank at the same time, while keeping an eye on the pressure and throttling up and down as needed.

Miracles do happen! Either he’s a genius or I was just having a good day. He wasn’t totally working from scratch though, I have done the pump ops course . . . but that was years ago and really, I hadn’t retained much.

Fortunately for both of us, it’s all starting to make sense now.

Jennifer Mabee is a volunteer with the Township of Georgian Bay Fire Department in Ontario. She began her fire career with the Township of Georgian Bay in 1997 and became the department's fire prevention officer in 2000 and a captain in 2003. She was a fire inspector with the City of Mississauga Fire and Emergency Services before taking time off to focus on family, and is excited to be back at it. E-mail her at

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