Day thirty one was the beginning of fire alarms and communications. We started with a 1.5 mile run which I completed in 14:45, 35 pushups and 29 situps. We focused on one of the most boring subjects and guys were fighting to stay awake. I can’t blame the instructor, it is just dry material. To me, the most interesting part of the class was observing the instructor, the man who had beat me out for the job I had interviewed for a little over a year earlier, Chief of Public Safety for the Asheville Regional Airport. He knew his subject well.
Day thirty two was the remainder of alarms and communications. There was nothing of interest to note for the lesson. We did a new physical fitness program today at the Carl Sandburg Estate by running to the top of Big Glassy Overlook. We ran just a little under 1.5 miles uphill. The uphill had about 450’ increase in elevation. One classmate did not make it to the top. The rest of us took a class photo at the top. The return run was just a little longer as we ran all the way back to the parking lot rather than the starting point. The return run had a 558’ foot drop in elevation. While we were on the run down I was less than 100 feet from three of my younger classmates. They heard me running up behind them and started to kick it in a little. I yelled at them, “You better run, the old man is catching up to you!” When they crossed the finish line I was less than thirty seconds behind them. One of my goals is to pass regularly each of these three on our runs. It will be tough as two are eighteen and the other twenty three years old, less than half my age. But I want this more than they do. I have more to prove because of my age.
Day thirty three was the first day of fire and life safety. Before we got into the classroom our fitness training included a straight 30 minutes of running, nonstop, but at “your own pace”. I changed it up from our normal academy running rout as did most of the guys. I wound up running 2.77 miles in 30:20. Now this is not a blistering pace by any means but take into considerations we are running in the mountains and while the area of the campus is not steep mountainous, it is rather hilly. I am pretty happy with my fitness at this point and I know it is only going to get better. The “young man” in this “old man” is trying to take over!
Fire and Life Safety is all about making the public safer through fire prevention, education, pre-fire planning and inspection programs. At the same time we are also making firefighters safer by learning about specific building construction, it’s occupancy, occupant made hazards and how we can make things safer. A little interesting and a little boring but certainly a worthwhile subject to study.
Day thirty four started with more circuit training around the residential building; with about one minute at each station, running stairs, throwing the medicine ball, man makers, jump squats and planks followed by about a 200 yard run at your own pace. Repeat everything then to the tower for a run up to the third floor with a duce and a half skid pack, drop it and pull a roll of 2.5” on a rope up to the window, drop it on the floor; pick up the skid pack, run back to the ramp outside. Oh, yeah. Hold a plank while the person in front of you is running the rest of the course. My team won again with about a 35 second lead.
We had some presentations to make for the class. This was a sort of public education exercise to keep everyone on their feet and for some, the first time they have had to make a public presentation. My presentation, Responsible Drinking and You was a PowerPoint that included some general alcohol info, pictures found easily on the internet and a few videos found on you tube describing good decision making while consuming alcohol. It got some good laughs. We also got to tour the City Hendersonville Fire Department Fire Station 2. We performed a pre-fire plan on the station which is fairly new. By the way, station 2 was nice, albeit a rather “sterile” plain jane environment.
Day thirty five brought a whole new adventure in physical fitness. We performed what we know as the Asheville test. Named after the City of Asheville Fire Department physical fitness entrance exam. We started by beating the Keiser Sled, moving the weight across the sled with each hit of the mallet. (My personal opinion is that the Keiser sled is a torture device designed by some sadistic ass who wants to kill would be firefighters by means of over exertion.) Then run about a 150′ to an 1.75″ charged hose line and drag it for 75′. Run back to the Keiser Sled and shoulder up a 2.5″ skid pack and run about 100′ to the tower and up to the 3rd floor then back down. Run about 150′ to a cone and back to the tower, drop the skid pack and pick up a 30 pound dumbbell and simulate pulling a ceiling with a pike pole from belly button to straight arms over head 20 times. Pick up the skid pack again and go back up to the 3rd floor and back down again. Then run 150 feet to the cone and back to the tower. Then go up to the fourth floor and drop the skid pack. Hoist a 2.5″ hose up to the 4th floor window using rope. Go back down the stairs to the cone and pick up and drag a 150 pound dummy 100′. Al while wearing a 40 pound weighted vest to simulate wearing firefighter gear. Time limit is 12 minutes with no adjustments for age. I finished in 11:44! Not as good as I would have liked but a pass!
The academic subject for the day was emergency medical care. Now having been in emergency services for almost 40 years at this point I may have a different view of emergency medical care than most. I have seen friends in the fire service and law enforcement injured and killed in the line of duty. I have seen friends in the fire service and law enforcement get sick from diseases such as cancer, heart disease, hepatitis and other communicable diseases. I worked and lived through the early 1980’s HIV/AIDS scare, paranoia and lack of information as a firefighter/paramedic; providing care to all walks of life and not knowing what possible risks I faced. So yes, I may have a different view than some of my current counterparts.
My feelings are that we are here to help everyone regardless of the color of their skin, country of origin, what they do for a living, how they feel about me and what I do, or what their political or religious beliefs may be. Some people make it very difficult to help them by being belligerent, drunk, obstructive and some just flat out crazy and have no idea what they are doing or saying but try to help them we must. I also feel that if you are the best firefighter that anyone could be but do not like providing emergency medical care to the sick and injured public at least learn it and be the best you can be so that if your brother or sister firefighter/law enforcement officer, or worse yet, your family members need help, you can do what is needed to save their life. There is no more helpless feeling than watching someone’s life slipping away before you and you have no idea or equipment to prevent or slow down the process. Lastly, if you still think you are not there to help provide emergency medical care, find a new job, firefighting is not the career for you.
©Alden L. Doane 2015