I don’t really know how to be a rational person at the moment because I just had THE MOST EXCITING EXPERIENCE EVER!
A friend and fellow volunteer also volunteers for a local fire department somewhat-near my place, and he offered to let me hang out at the firehouse for the day. I got to meet the chief, the assistant chief, and the rest of the team, and I got a detailed tour of each of the trucks, what they do, and the equipment on them. I also got to try on all the gear – boots, pants, suspenders, jacket, face mask, helmet, and a pack with an air cylinder. Surprisingly, all that gear wasn’t nearly as heavy as I’d anticipated – I think that’s what’s stopped me from even considering becoming a volunteer firefighter before; I didn’t think I could physically handle the full gear. Now I think I could. I was also surprised at just how utilitarian the trucks are – there’s not an inch of space wasted on or in them! He let me hop up in the cab in the driver’s seat and let me pretend I was driving, which was exciting in and of itself, but not nearly as exciting as going out on a fire call…
WHICH HAPPENED LATER IN THE DAY AND I ALMOST PEED MYSELF FROM THE EXCITEMENT.
Granted, it was just an alarm call, and we knew that going in, so we were fairly certain we weren’t going to see any action (*I* wasn’t going to see any real action anyway, obviously, because I have no gear of my own and I’m completely untrained). But still, I got to ride in the truck while my friend drove and I experienced the full shebang – lights, sirens screaming, and firefighters getting dressed in the backseat with me while my friend navigated through intersections and around corners. I never realized that the firefighters just run into the firehouse and grab their gear off the hook and get dressed in the truck (or on the truck, if it’s an old truck and they’re outside hanging onto the back) – that blew my mind. I also learned a lot tonight about how boneheaded the general population is when they see a fire truck – some people just completely freeze where they are (blocking an intersection); others will turn right in front of the truck (presumably to get out of the way?); and others will try to race the truck. Honestly, people are idiots.
The entire way to the scene of the alarm, I was silently screaming “OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG” in my head and I was wearing a stupid grin that I couldn’t wipe off if I’d tried – it was that darn cool. I think I may have officially become a fire junkie, if I weren’t one already. (Note: that’s totally separate and distinct from a firebug – I’m not setting any fires, thankyouverymuch.)
My friend left the door open for a future ride along, so I’m hopeful he’ll invite me along again. In the meantime, I might just need to look into my local VFD and see if they need any help… 🙂