Thursday, June 24, 2010

Where it all happens.

Before I talk about my firefighting career I thought I should explain the playing field, the fire house it's self. This is the natural environment of the firefighter, but a completely unnatural environment for most humans.

Fire stations for the most part are really big garages for really big trucks, with some living space added on. In the early days of firefighting before my time, the fire house had horses to pull the fire wagons. So the garages were in fact barns, as mechanized fire apparatus arrived the barns were changed into garages. So prior to this arrival of steal and steam the firefighters took care of the horses and waited for a fire.

The business of firefighting changed but many of the buildings from the horse drawn age continued to serve as fire houses. So now there were more firefighters and trucks living in old barns. I worked in fire stations that were almost a hundred years old, the smell of horse poop was gone and replaced with the smell of diesel , but the stupid bedroom was exactly the same.

It seemed to me that as our profession grew to include paramedics, hazmat, and decontamination operations, that the people themselves were always an after thought. We would get a small remodel every now and then. The kitchen would get an upgrade, or the Living room would get some new chairs, but we still lived in an one hundred year old building.

I know this sounds a little whiny but there is a difference in how we work compared to other office workers. First we are there for a full 24 hours, we don't get to leave for lunch, or go home for dinner with the family. We only leave for emergencies. So when every other 9 to 5 building in the city has air conditioning and we don't it forces us into firefighting mode.

What is firefighting mode? We handle it ourselves, we drag in garage sale air conditioners, we build our own little gyms, we fix the problem. Don't get me wrong by the end of my career the firehouses I worked in were amazing and very human friendly, wit commercial kitchens, AC, and private bedrooms, very cool. My point is that firefighting has deeply ingrained traditions that change comes very slowly to us.

More about fire stations to come.


david blankinship said...

I can't believe I get to read your writing everyday. Like it. (blankinship)

fireman said...

Thanks Dave.