Archive for February2009


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I let out a loud whoop, and took a deep breath as my boot hit the rung. A tingle grew slowly in my chest, until I could no longer contain it—I began laughing madly, my turnout coat still whipping around me in the wind.  I didn't even mind that I was a hundred feet in […]


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Have you ever woken up and thought to yourself: "Let's see… going to work out is probably the worst idea I've ever had. Can't I just go back to bed?" For most people, this eternal to-gym-or-not-to-gym dilemma becomes even more tumultuous when one realizes that it's actually starting to pay off (we, on the other hand, […]

How to stay calm: Lesson 2.

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Step 1: Put all your gear on, but reverse your hood. Step 2: Have someone spin you around until you have essentially no idea which way is forward. Step 3: Be "gently" guided by the Sergeant into a wooden maze that takes up most of the apparatus bay floor (again, thank God for those helmets).  […]


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Ah, yes. One of the essential tools of the firefighter: hose. To be perfectly honest, there's not a whole lot to be said about hose; it's ultimately designed to get water to the fire. There's some math involved in pumping it, but it really boils down to a simple plumbing problem. We've got all sorts […]

How to stay calm: Lesson 1.

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During the first week that I was at the Academy, I remember wondering aloud what the large black plastic tubes were for that sat at the back of the drill yard. Someone who had done this before informed me that they were to teach recruits how to navigate tight spaces while wearing their SCBAs.  Only […]

Learning to breathe again.

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Never before has the simple act of breathing seemed so technologically complex. I mean, sure, it's nearly a miracle that the human body can coordinate the whole diaphragm/lungs/airway setup, but I figured that was complicated enough. Now, after obtaining an air* cylinder and SCBA harness (the complete package weighing just a hair over thirty pounds), […]

Looking forward; this week.

I decided to take a small break from studying to add a few things about last week, as well as a few fun items to look forward to in the coming days. A few readers contacted me regarding this post, and they were nice enough to help clarify the function of our ID tags. As […]

A few (unconnected) points.

Every morning at the Academy, a handful of recruits gather together in a circle for morning prayer. Some are half-asleep, dreaming of coffee through half-closed eyes; others are bouncing off the wall so violently that they can barely keep themselves in one place long enough to conclude the activity. Today, there was a lot to […]

The recruit ensemble.

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As mentioned in previous posts, there are certain items that are to be either a) on our person at all times, or b) immediately available while seated at our desks. Incidentally, “on our person” includes items that are to be committed to memory; the mission statement of the Department, the names of various high-ranking officers, […]

The REAL beginning.

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“Uh… he’s the Assistant Chief of Services, right?” We all knew the answer was wrong, yet we sat silent and uncomfortable in the hot classroom. It was unsettling, like watching someone screw up the $250,000 question on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. A slow grin crept across Sgt. Paulson’s face as he stared back […]