Event: Hung out at a Fire Station
All my life I have pictured a fire station as a multi-level building, buzzing with 20 or 30 fire fighters running around (some without their shirts) playing pool, cooking, working out (without their shirts), watching TV...just waiting for that fateful bell to ring. In my mind, they're hanging out, playing pranks, hazing the rookie, playing with a Dalmatian, just waiting for that bell. And when the bell finally rings, I imagined mass chaos of firefighters jumping out of the shower, sprinting out of the gym, scrambling out of their bunk only to slide down a pole into the fire engine bay. There, more chaos ensues as they frantically put on their gear, jump on the moving fire engine and ride off to save a little girl from a burning building.
Apparently, I've been living in a motion picture dream state because my fire station experience was anything like what I had imagined.
My sister and I had an appointment to tour a fire station near my house. As we walked up to the side door and rang the bell to get in, I noticed there weren't any fire trucks in the garage. Bummer. We were greeted by the Battalion Chief who quickly told us not only were no trucks present, there actually weren't any fire fighters present, either. I needed a moment. The truck I can get over. But no fire fighters? It was like hearing there would be no presents at Christmas, no candy at Halloween, no green beer at St. Patrick's Day. Devastated, I pulled it together only to hear him utter the words, "You should stop by the fire station down the street. Both trucks are there and lots of my guys are on duty."
My white freckly legs couldn't move fast enough. Before I knew it, we found ourselves at the home of Engine 23 and some of the best looking fire fighters in town (well, at least the three that I saw). And as it turned out, one of those good looking fire fighters on duty was a friend of ours so we got the VIP tour. We got to see where the men eat, sleep, shower and play. Plus, both the engine truck and the ladder truck were in the bay, and we got to see inside every nook and cranny from bumper to bumper. We learned that there are like 5 different types of hoses, a million different pressure gauges and air tanks that are built into the seat so all they have to do is sit, push a lever and their tanks are attached to their backs. I mean this stuff was high tech! I learned that fire fighters have to be in their gear and on the truck in 60 seconds, so I decided to give it a try. My fire fighting friend allowed me to put on his gear, and at first I thought I'd time myself (I mean how hard can it be) but considering it took me 60 seconds just to get my shoes OFF I decided to take it slow. I first put on the helmet and quickly realized the importance of neck muscles. Apparently I have none. I could barely keep my head up! Bending over to get my feet into the boots (with the pants magically attached) proved to be tougher than I thought, given the whole head-neck-helmet thing, but I pressed on and managed to pull the pants up over my jeans, put the suspenders over my shoulders and with what little strength I had left, I threw on the jacket that I swear weighed a thousand pounds. I have no idea how these men run through burning buildings with this heavy gear, carrying a hose filled with water, an axe and a seven-year-old clinging to a teddy bear. Ok, maybe this only happens in the movies, but still.
Lucky for us, during that moment the fateful bell didn't ring, because I needed about three fire fighters to get me out of that get-up. We managed to put everything back together and while there were no fire fighters sliding down poles, no frantic bell ringing, no emergencies and no Dalmatians, I still had a smokin' good time. Thanks Billy!