Monday, October 17, 2022


my day as a firefighter

I was invited to participate in a day of hands-on activities at the county's emergency training center to engage in the on-the-job experiences of firefighters. Activities included a search and rescue exercise inside a burning building, extinguishing a car fire, a jaws of life vehicle extraction, an active shooter paramedic scenario and addressing a mock HAZMAT situation. The day was exhilarating and eye-opening. Everyone is familiar with firefighters but how many people actually strap on the gear and use it?  

You don't realize until experiencing it how heavy the gear is and how quick on your feet you have to be both mentally and physically when it comes to this job until going through the same drills the pros do. This movie geek was able to live out some moments as if he was starring in Backdraft. I had a lot of respect for firefighters even before participating in this Firefighting 101 training and it was truly a great experience; but think my day as a firefighter was enough for me and will stick with my current day job. Thank you to everyone who takes on this much needed and challenging profession!


It was a nice sunny day outside, but inside a smoke-filled building it was almost impossible to see. We used thermal imaging cameras to navigate through a maze of room looking for people trapped inside and fire hot spots. The value of this tech really stood out when you are the one standing in the midst of a building that is ablaze.  


Next it was on to responding to a HAZMAT scenario where an office called the fire department to report receiving an envelope in the mail filled with a white powder that could be anthrax. I was geeked to have a real-life Star Trek moment using an actual tricorder. This handheld sensor utilizes a laser to do chemical analysis of substances and tell users what they are scanning. My scan showed that it wasn't anthrax but rather corn starch in the envelope.

real life tricorder


Yes, firefighters obviously put out fires, but they also are often the first emergency responders to address medical emergencies. We engaged in a scenario where police officers led teams of firefighters into an active shooter scene to triage victims and facilitate getting them out of harm's way. I practiced putting on tourniquets upon the arms and legs of live volunteers from local police and fire departments.
Then we carried them to awaiting ambulances.  A very stressful situation and this was just a drill!


jaws of life

Firefighters don't just rush into burning buildings, they also respond to roadside accidents which actually can make up a majority of the calls for assistance during a year for some departments. Extricating people wrapped up in a crushed shell of metal is no easy task. Utilizing jaws of life hydraulic extraction rescue tools are an essential resource for getting this job done.

I had the chance to use the jaws of life to tear off a door to remove a passenger from a vehicle damaged from a collision. Two impressions from this experience. First, wow these devices are powerful and it was easy to see how they've earned the name jaws of life. Second, ugh these tools are very heavy! Wielding the jaws of life was the most physically exerting and exhausting activity of the day. Departments need to make sure their staff has the weight room and physical training recourses to ensure their personnel can handle these important tools to their full efficiency.  

jaws of life


Wrapped up my day as a firefighter extinguishing a car fire. We did two rounds of this drill. First time through I went in first with a crowbar to open accesses to the vehicle for being sprayed down with water. The second time, I led the hose team in spraying the car fire out with water. An exciting experience that was also thrilling to participate in.


What really stood out during this Firefighters 101 training is that firefighting is much more than just fighting fires. Firefighters are essential multitask emergency responders. Search and rescue of damaged buildings after a natural disaster; minimizing public exposure to hazardous materials unleashed into the environment or weaponized against people; 911 responders to medical emergencies; rescuing people from automobile crashes. They do lots more than the name implies! And of course, putting out fires and rescuing people from burning buildings is nothing to scoff at either.


Let the firefighters in your community know you appreciate them. Say thank you and express your appreciation for their service. Remember, firefighting is a dangerous profession, with these men and women are putting their lives on the line in service to others. Support your local government spending the resources to ensure these people who risk their lives are going into peril with the best tools and resources to accomplish their job. 

my day as a firefighter

Let's make sure firefighters have the ability to not only get the people they are rescuing out of danger, but also be able to return home to their own families as well when their mission has been accomplished. Thanks again to the local departments that let me get a better understanding what is like to live a day in the life of a firefighter.

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