For those of you that don’t know, I’m currently challenging myself by taking Fire I. I grew up volunteering with the local Volunteer Fire Department, starting in the Explorer post at 14, and spending 5 years as an active member. At the time, I was more interested in EMS than Fire, and in addition to attending EMT school, I did a lot of training at the department level for firefighter… but I never completed an official fire academy.
For the last year, I've been a member of a volunteer department within the Prince George’s County Fire Department in MD. I've been reminded how much I missed doing the fire stuff, and how fun it can be. PGFD is a busy system, and is the closest a volunteer can get to being part of a large urban department. From my perspective, we all play by the same rule book, and everyone gets along (usually). It’s busy, and my station operates with volunteer staffing on evenings, weekends, and holidays. We have career staff 7am-3pm Monday-Friday, but volunteers cover the rest.
I’m most excited to be riding on the Rescue Squad. The Squad is a heavy rescue truck, or a toolbox on wheels. From vehicle extrications to industrial accidents, to technical rescue, they do it all. The knowledge in the firehouse is amazing, and many of the members are eager to share their experience with those willing to learn.
Anyway – because I never did fire school, I've got to start from scratch. I did the County’s volunteer recruit orientation program (Fire Service 101, and some other needed stuff), as well as completing in house training on our apparatus, including equipment operations and locations, as well as SOP familiarization (Standard Operating Procedures). I’m riding fire apparatus as an exterior firefighter. So I’m riding the rescue for calls. I can also assist with tasks outside the fire structure, like throwing ladders or other operations – but I’m not allowed to put on an airpak and go in to an IDLH (Immanently Dangerous to Life and Health) atmosphere.
It’s a blast. I realize how much I missed it. Stay tuned for more posts from the fire side.