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May 30, 2012
By Jennifer Grigg


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May 30, 2012, Midland, Ont. – Monday was our regular training night and lucky for us, we were doing marine training. (And no, that’s not just code for jumping in the lake to cool off . . . ) Our fire department actually has two marine units, one in Station 1 and one in Station 3, which is our hall. Our boat is a 1988 20-foot Crestliner equipped with a 5,000 litre per minute Hale pump and two four-inch direct-in-water intakes. (Thanks to Mr. Oakley Sunglasses, who did the training, for the specs . . . all I knew for sure was that it was a boat with a pump on board.)

May 30, 2012, Midland, Ont. – Monday was our regular training night and lucky for us, we were doing marine training. (And no, that’s not just code for jumping in the lake to cool off . . . ) Our fire department actually has two marine units, one in Station 1 and one in Station 3, which is our hall. Our boat is a 1988 20-foot Crestliner equipped with a 5,000 litre per minute Hale pump and two four-inch direct-in-water intakes. (Thanks to Mr. Oakley Sunglasses, who did the training, for the specs . . . all I knew for sure was that it was a boat with a pump on board.)

I was really looking forward to training because I hadn’t had the opportunity to be on the boat yet and wasn’t familiar with the pump. Fortunately for me, it’s a heck of a lot easier to operate than the pump panel on the pumper! Besides, it was 32 degrees – who wouldn’t want to be on a boat?

After completing our truck checks, we headed over to the local launch ramp to play with the boat. There were 11 of us so we had to split into two groups to do the training as the boat could only accommodate so many.

The firefighter who was running the training had a really cool app on his tablet for marine charts and I was fascinated by it. (Doesn’t take much, eh?) I had parked myself on a little step at the front of the boat facing backwards, and was playing with the tablet and trying to watch where we were going on it. Note to self: it’s much easier to follow where you’re going if you are facing the right direction so you can actually see where you’re going . . . Found it much easier to follow once I stood up and faced forward.

After a quick jaunt out to the middle of the bay, we stopped to admire the sunset, oops, I mean play with the pump. (The sunset was gorgeous over the water though . . . just sayin’.) To my surprise, getting the pump going was actually quite easy and quick to do. When I was on the nozzle, I’d go from aiming it straight down at the water in front of me, and then up in the air, and then side to side and back down at the water again, which is what you’re supposed to do to get the feel of it. However, I felt like a 12 year old off in la-la land playing and having a great old time. After a minute or two, I kind of looked over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching me, but thankfully, they were all discussing something (at least I think that’s what they were doing) and not really watching me.

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Once we finished, we headed back to the dock so the trainer could take the other group out. While waiting for them, we stood on the dock and chatted about things like the weather, the fires up near Timmins, what our kids are up to, training . . . you know, the usual stuff most people would chat about.

However, it made me realize that we aren’t most people, because most people don’t get to do the things we do. Granted, there are definitely many moments that aren’t pleasant (car accidents with injuries, structure fires, medical emergencies, and hard work on hot days with 40 pounds of gear on) but there are almost as many awesome moments like these. It’s a fine balance, really.

Training on a fire boat on a sweltering hot evening, learning how to use the equipment before we need it, and just enjoying the camaraderie of your fellow firefighters. What more could a girl ask for?


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