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Nov. 15, 2012, Waubaushene, Ont. – You know the scenes in movies where the firefighters are all hanging out together after hours in a bar, laughing and carrying on, or at a wedding, or at someone’s house with their spouses and kids, like in Ladder 49? I love those parts.

November 15, 2012
By Jennifer Grigg


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Nov. 15, 2012, Waubaushene, Ont. – You know the scenes in movies where the firefighters are all hanging out together after hours in a bar, laughing and carrying on, or at a wedding, or at someone’s house with their spouses and kids, like in Ladder 49? I love those parts.

Call me a girl or whatever you will, but times like those are a big part of life in the fire hall; the sense of camaraderie, of being a part of a group or a gang (not the kind of gang with members that all have the same black jackets and emblems on them . . . wait a minute, volunteer firefighters do wear those . . . OK, so not a great example).

My point is that the sense of being a part of something bigger than yourself is what being on a fire department is all about – both in the fire hall and outside of the hall. Admittedly, the conversations at gatherings outside of the hall often end up with stories of life in the hall, but perhaps that’s what bonds everyone in the hall together.

We were at a fellow firefighter’s house on the weekend for a get-together and I can tell you, it doesn’t matter whether you’re on the same fire department or not, the guys are all the same. Which is probably why the fire service is referred to as a brotherhood. The friendly banter, the teasing, the poking fun at each other – it’s all one and the same, no matter which hall or department you are on. Oh man, did I laugh. Even if I wasn’t on their hall, I could totally appreciate the stories. Can’t share any of them here, mind you.

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I’m glad we didn’t get home too late though, because my pager went off around 3am for an MVC up in the north end of our area, which meant that only our rescue truck responds because we’re just backing up the other hall.

I jumped out of bed and threw on some clothes. Using my cell phone as a light, I ran to the bathroom (there’s nothing worse than being stuck on the highway all night and having to go.” Not so much a problem for the guys, but for the girls it’s a bit of an issue.) As I was pulling out onto the highway, I was glancing in my rear view mirror for green lights coming up behind me belonging to a couple of guys that live near me.

I listened for someone to man the hall. I remember thinking to myself, “Am I going to be the first one at the hall? No way!” As I pulled into the hall, I could see the rescue leaving the hall with the lights on. Fortunately for me, the district chief (DC) and captain waited for me to jump in with them.

I got in the back of the rescue and buckled myself into one of the jump seats. My captain greeted me with a “Hey, Jenny.” I replied with a “Good morning,” and settled back for the 15-minute ride. You can’t hear much of what’s going on in the cab in the back of the truck so I started to think about what we’d need to get off the truck if it turned out to be an extrication. (Since I was with a captain and the district chief, I knew I’d be the grunt on this one . . .)

Just as we were about to pull up on scene, Command advised us that we could stand down. “Oh well, nice night for a drive,” the DC said. I thought to myself, “Bummer . . . my first middle-of-the-night call since I returned over a year ago.”

As I once again settled back in my seat, I caught a whiff of my hair, which smelled distinctly like the campfire from the get-together earlier in the evening. I smiled to myself thinking about the some of the stories and laughs.

The life of a volunteer: good times, no matter what way you look at it.

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 jhook0312@yahoo.ca and follow her on Twitter at @jenmabee.


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