This last fire brigade training was a b****! Started off fine. I knew that I had to tough it out, but the early morning briefing of what was to come filled me with dread. It seemed like a lot. I have a hard time remembering every little detail from the briefing. Even still, we were all not looking forward to this one.
Every year we have the smoke filled building training in the spring and in the fall we have “live fire”. In this spring training, we bunker down and enter an “apartment” and have a few scenarios. First, we enter a maze. Of course we are on our hands and knees, in pairs mind you (can’t go anywhere without your buddy). We do a right hand search looking for the hose that a fallen firefighter left in the building. We’re searching for our fallen man. Once you find the hose, you feel the hose connection for the notches. Bumps to the pumps. We follow the smooth side to our victim.
Going through this is pretty hair raising. Good thing I’m not claustrophobic. You cannot see a thing. We have flashlights attached to our jackets turned on, but you really can’t see it. As we’re crawling, I keep touching my partners foot or leg to let him know that I’m still behind him because you can’t hear very well either when you’re breathing through a mask like Darth Vador.
If I were to go first we would have been in this maze forever. My partner though about 300 pounds is very fast. I would follow him again. He may not be the brightest bulb in the bunch but he has a solid genuine heart of gold.
The amazing part is when we have to crawl on our belly’s to get through a box tunnel. I always get caught with my air tank on something. It may have been at this point that my radio cable disconnected. Our Fire Brigade Leader is calling us to check on our tank levels to make sure we have enough to continue. If we have only half then we have to turn back around because we wouldn’t have enough to get through the maze. We make it through the tunnel and my partner finds the hose connection. I feel for the bumps on the metal and direct him to continue on. We make it through the maze but we have to go to the second floor following this hose.
We're moving along and I’m having trouble communicating with the FB Leader. My button for my radio is dangling by my legs. I can’t feel the cable or button through my thick gloves. I finally check in and I sense my partner is taking off on me. I yell at him to stop because I can’t do two things at once.
During all of this we have our instructor right there with us. He is standing throughout this whole ordeal. I have no idea how he can see or hear us but he does. He yells for him to stop too. My partner was a little taken back by that. I finish with my communications and we continue. Now we are following the hose up two ramps. The first is so steep we have to climb up it on our hands like a ladder. The second was not so bad.
We get to the top and we trailing the spaghetti mess of a firehose all around this empty smoke filled room. However, there are beams and rafters in the way and we keep bumping into these. We make it to the nozzle end and it’s time to turn around and come out. Instead of letting my partner lead us out we just do a 180. I don’t mind, thinking I can handle it since we’ve been through this before.
We’re at the top of the ramps. I lead us safely down the first, but I misjudged the second and I slam on my behind and slide down fast to the bottom. Right on top of my instructor. By the time I catch my breath and am about to warn my partner he comes crashing down on top of me. All 300 pounds of him.
Haha. My instructor is quick and asks if we are ok. I was fine. Shoot this was the first drill of the day. I should have known this was a warning of what was to come.
Let’s just say by the end of the day, every one has left the premises and I’m sitting in my car paralyzed. Complete exhaustion taking over every cell of my body. Whenever this occurs, I must release some form of it and the way that it comes for me is by tears.