Come on baby, fight my fire
Recently I spent a day at Rocky Mount’s Fire Station 2 – one the busiest stations in terms of call volume in the entire country, according to the Rocky Mount Fire Department. It was as an interesting experience, to say the least. We all hear about firefighters, but actually seeing what they do every day was truly eye-opening.
These guys are no slouches. They work three full days a week (i.e., 72 hours!). When they’re not responding to emergencies, they keep very busy. Besides maintaining the fire station and equipment, they take emergency-related classes, perform fire inspections and draw maps of ALL the buildings in the city, do physical training, and maintain all the fire hydrants in their area. However, they have to be ready to go at a moment’s notice. They are usually the first ones on the scene because they can be at the scene of an emergency in about 3-4 minutes, whereas an EMS team from the county may take 10-15. When someone is having a heart attack, for example, this quick response makes the odds of survival a lot higher.
Indeed, responding to medical emergencies is something they do a lot. I only went on one call during the day, and it was of a medical nature. Firefighting has changed in recent decades: nowadays firefighters have to be jacks-of-all-trades, able to respond to any kind of emergency, be it a fire, a rescue operation, a car wreck, or a medical emergency. It takes a lot of training and practice to be prepared to deal with this wide variety of scenarios. Teamwork is essential, as different members of a 4 person fire crew have different roles and maybe different specializations.
The fire crew was nice enough to let me try out some of their equipment. Even though the hose I sprayed was one of their smaller ones, it was incredibly hard to handle, especially by myself (they try to have two people on a hose, but this isn’t always possible). I could barely spray it on my own for a couple minutes, whereas firefighters may have to do so for 30 minutes at a time in extreme heat.
It was a fascinating day at Station 2, and I came away with a much better understanding of firefighting and even more respect for the people who do it. I am very grateful to the fire crew for this unique experience.