Monday, May 5, 2014

Our Nephew the Firefighter!

Before leaving the Midwest, we took advantage of an offer from our nephew Rick to come take a tour of the firehouse where he works.  Sounded like fun to us, so Sunday found us in search of where he works.  With me driving, and Melinda examining the map on her IPhone screen, we actually missed the big building on the hill with the big flag, big doors, big living area and big parking lot with the big sign - D'oh!  After parking, he was waiting for us at the entrance.  At left is a 3-frame panorama of the ladder truck in the garage...

He has worked at the Algonquin/Lake in the Hills fire house for 7 years, and his pride in the place shows.  We got a complete tour of the place, living quarters to going through all the equipment.  As you would expect when lives are on the line, everything you might need is right there in its proper place so there is no wasted time in getting the right tools.  This is HUGE machinery, and of course, he has to be proficient in all aspects of their use from ambulance to ladder truck.  Shown here are two of the emblems we spotted a lot.  I like the look of the tooled brass letters and pin striping shown at left even though it is an applied decal.   At right is the emblem he called the "smiley face" design.

Of course, Aunt Melinda was invited to sit in the driver's seat - quite a climb for her!  Rick explained a lot of the controls and turned on the emergency lights too, but no sirens as there were sleepers in the building...  You will note his radio close at hand - he halted the walk-through a number of times to listen to transmissions, and was on his phone a time or two also.  The picture at right is similar to the panorama frame used above, but a narrower, better shot.

These million-dollar machines are also versatile - the controls at left just hint at the complexity of what they can do.  While they carry some water on board, they can pump for less than a minute at full flow before using up their on-board water, necessitating a hookup to a hydrant or alternate source quickly.  The picture at right is interesting too - a fireman's outfit just outside an open door...  They drill to get into their gear in under a minute - during an alarm, they run out, kick off their shoes, step into their boots, pull up on the suspenders and they're ready to go!

And while the daily chores can be a routine of tedium, the risk of danger is never very far away.  At left is the ladder truck's bell, dedicated to a firefighter who died in the line of duty (also barely spotted in the panorama shot above).  Rick himself keeps those dear to him close - a picture of his daughter, year-old Emmy resides in his helmet so it is always near to him, shown at right.

It was great to see Rick and learn more about his work.  I had a little training in first responder and fire fighting when on Kitt Peak decades ago with their army surplus fire truck and modern ambulance, so I have an appreciation and respect for the job they do every day.  I hope his job continues to be routine and the dangerous aspects minimized...

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