Monday, March 30, 2009

Drive Time

What's one of the most pure-fun parts of becoming a firefighter? Driving big trucks. Every little kid wants to do it, and it's for good reason: it feels really cool to be in control of something that big.

Yesterday I got to complete my first hour of drive time. In my department, before you can get your red helmet (you keep your orange recruit helmet until this point), you have to be checked off on every front-line apparatus at your station. This entails doing at least 10 hours of "drive time", which gets you familiar with your apparatus and with the area it responds to. My brother's station has an engine, a tanker, and a brush truck, so it could take a while for a new recruit to lose the "Probie" label, but my station just has 1 engine, so it should be a pretty quick process for me.

I met my station commander there in the afternoon, and while he was getting some paperwork printed off for to document the training, the senior Firefighter at the station pulled me aside for a second.

"Hey man, about your drive time...."


"It's like this: 1401 is the only truck we have, right? So, if you fuck up my truck, well; nothing personal, but I WILL have to fuck you up. Bad. Like, GI bleed, bad. And it's not cause I don't like you, it's just the way it is, right?"


Nothing like picking on the new guy. :)

So we started by the captain having me do a "360" before leaving. That's exactly what it sounds like: you just walk around the truck to make sure nothing is amiss before you start driving. All the compartments should be shut, nothing should be left sitting on the bumper, nobody should be taking a nap in front of the wheels, etc.

After that I jumped in and started her up, pulled outside, and got to talk over a real radio channel for the first time. This was something that was pretty cool to me. I've done plenty of radio traffic at the training center to other recruits and to instructors, but this was me actually talking to joint communications, so I felt my voice deepen a little as I addressed the city with the gravity I felt such a monumental piece of radio traffic deserved:

"Columbia from engine 1401"

Ok, maybe I deepened my voice a little to much. Oh well, can't worry about it now:

"1401 go ahead"

"engine 1401 is on the air"

"1401 on the air 14:43"

Woo-hoo! That was awesome!....Well, ok, now it doesn't seem so amazing after the fact, but at the time that was a serious rush for me.

We spent the next 1.5 hours driving around my station's runbox, the captain pointing out previous scenes where they had responded for interesting incidents. Vehicle extrications, fires, ice rescues, all kinds of exciting stuff. By the time we got back to the station I felt like we'd only been gone for 15 minutes, and I wasn't ready to get down off my power high just yet. Luckily, there's something fun I got to look forward to right at the end of the drive:

"Columbia from engine 1401"

"1401 go ahead"

"Engine 1401 is in quarters"

"1401 in quarters 16:24"

Yeah, that was fun.

No comments:

Post a Comment