Day eleven tested and tried my physical and mental endurance to the max. We started the day with another physical fitness test, one and a half mile run, as many push-ups as I could do in one minute (20) and as many sit ups (28) as I could do in one minute. My time for the run was 16:15, 48 seconds faster than the previous week. I also through in a little kick at the end and picked up the pace and ran as fast as I could the last 100 yards or so.
We laddered the fire tower with ladders to the second, third and fourth floors, two to each floor. Wearing full turn out gear and an axe in hand we did a round robin by climbing up the ladder to the second floor, sound the floor for a safe landing, enter the window, go to the other ladder on the second floor and down. I then climbed up the ladder to the third floor, sounding and entering and then down the other ladder. I repeated the same procedures for the ladder to the fourth floor and down the other ladder. Then each of us climbed the 75’ aerial ladder and back down again. Then we each tackled the tower ladder by climbing up to the roof and down the stairs. Then it was a short water break, put on the SCBA without hooking up to air and then repeat entire round robin we had just completed. Now only we had to climb up just one of the aerials and back down again, I chose the 95’ tower ladder.
We took a one hour lunch break and then took turns throwing an extension ladder to the first floor roof of the residential burn building, hoisted a 16’ roof ladder up and pushed it over the peak, climbed up the roof ladder, then back down and remove the roof ladder and extension ladder from the roof. OK, we have to be done, right? NOPE! Now we need to practice ladder rescues.
Again we laddered two second floor windows with extension ladders. More round robin drills of being a victim and a rescuer. First it was the outward facing firefighter rescue. Then the ladder facing rescue followed by the cradle rescue. All of this with other probies being the victims, in full turn out gear, both victim and rescuer.
I have to tell you that I wanted to stop a couple of times today. One time was when I was getting ready to remove the roof ladder from the peak of the roof. I was wiped out and exhausted. I told the instructor I didn’t know if I had the strength to push the roof ladder up and free of the peak and turn it to slide down. He railed on me a little bit and I took the ladder down without dropping it. OK, so I had a little left in me!
Days twelve and thirteen brought us forcible entry class. A great deal of familiar information was passed on to us and some really great hands on with some tools I had not used in many years. I especially enjoyed the opportunity to use the gas powered rotary saw open a steel door.
Physical fitness training was tough. We started with a two-mile run, more 3” hose pack runs but this time to the fourth floor, circuit training and sprints. The circuit training was tough for a 57-year-old guy like me. Usually the circuit consisted of several stations doing as many of the exercises as possible at each station in the allotted time frame. Then rotate to the next station for the same amount of time and complete and rotate and so on. The stations typically included throwing a medicine ball up a 45-degree angle wall, running up and down a flight of stairs, lunges across the ramp, burpees with 20 pound weights, running another flight of stairs, planks, a sprint and then repeat. We generally started at 1.5 to 2 minutes per station with the sprint as the rest period between sets. We did this for 3 rotations with the last being about 30 – 45 seconds. Try it sometime, it is challenging.
Days fourteen and fifteen was a lesson on ropes. It has been a long time since I had tied any fire knots. Sure I can still tie an open clove hitch, half hitch and even a bowline using the rabbit, hole and tree method. I had not tied a figure 8 or figure 8 on a bite in many years, so I found the class very beneficial. I dropped my old way of tying the bowline and learned the XYZ method. I found the XYZ method to be much easier and was tying the knot wearing fire gloves and with my eyes closed in no time. By the end of day two we were hoisting charged and uncharged hose lines and every type of tool you could think of.
We had warned by the program coordinator to not be late to class. So when one of the guys returned late from lunch we were given a disciplinary penalty of 5 – fifth floor runs. When I reached the fifth floor the second time the guys were waiting at the top and some were cracking jokes and laughing about how they loved the penalty run to the top. I was a little less than impressed, not in love with the run and expressed my displeasure with the one that had been late causing the disciplinary action using some very colorful terms. The joking and laughing quit and by the time the fifth run up came around nobody was happy with the disciplinary run anymore. When back in the classroom the probie that had been late apologized to the class without being prompted. For that I give him credit.
Friday (Day 15) we had a very different type physical fitness training. We did about 45 non-stop minutes of ultimate Frisbee. It was a great workout with some fun added to boot. It was also the third of four “team competitions” that I had been on the winning team. This old man feels good about that!
©Alden L. Doane 2015