Sunday, December 20, 2009

It's not death that I fear.

I feel comfortable with my firefighter having a dangerous job. I don't know why; this coming from someone who has been known to worry herself out of a night's sleep over much smaller troubles. I just don't feel like he's going to die on the job.


However, I do worry about him getting injured. He goes into all sorts of environments where he could twist an ankle or tweak his back.

Recently, he went interior on a house fire with the exact kind of conditions that I fear. The house was covered in junk. Not just piles of trash here and there--we're talking several feet of papers and slick mail and who knows what else, filling the house. He couldn't see the floor. He had to use all of his weight to get the front door open and push the pile of crap aside.

Once in, he found that the garbage was going to be a big problem. The piles of paper slipped out from under his boots as he tried to walk. Pieces of furniture were randomly strewn in and on top of the mess. He made his way up the stairs, trying not to slide back down on the debris that covered the steps. The house was full of smoke, but he had a hard time finding the source of the fire. Even the thermal imaging camera (TIC) that his captain was using didn't help.


Once upstairs, he tried to keep his balance while following the wall with his extended hand, like firefighters do when searching a house. It helps them keep oriented. He threw random pieces of trash and small furniture out of his way.

His captain decided he had better clear the stairs while my firefighter was searching for the flames, in case they needed to make a quick exit. He went to remove the piles of junk mail and ended up sledding down them instead. Luckily, he didn't get injured--just made it downstairs quicker than he would have liked.

The fire itself was rather small; choking itself out in all of the smoke. The garbage was much more hazardous. Doors were blocked, searching for anything was difficult, and mopping up afterward was a huge chore.

I worry about my firefighter getting injured and no longer being able to do this job that he absolutely loves. It really is a physically demanding job; I can tell, by the number of hot baths he needs to relax his stiff muscles after work. Between maintaining all of the equipment, keeping physically fit, and the demands of the job itself, this is not a career for lazy--or injured--people. I could never be a firefighter; I'm much too wimpy, and much too prone to getting migraines. I think that counts as lazy AND injured. :)

This week my firefighter got a side job as a skills instructor at a local paramedic school. He picked up the job because he loves it; I like to think of it as a potential plan B. For those of you who know him, you know how great he is at teaching (or schooling you, if you've played games with him.) He's charismatic, has a great amount of knowledge, and loves being able to relate to people. Enjoying telling people what to do doesn't hurt, either. Being a skills instructor isn't what I'd call lucrative, but it is a nice way for him to put a foot in the teaching door.

As for the students who will come in contact with him... keep your hands and feet inside the cart at all times, and enjoy the ride!


Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness......what a picture you have painted with your words, one I would not have seen without you. In my not so humble opinion this is another "symptom" of a victim oriented society! So many think they will just be taken care fire fighters, police officers and our military members. They "seem" to have little or no personal stake in their survival be it their health, their physical surroundings or their continued freedom. Thank you for this eye opening post.

Shelly said...

I actually don't believe that my FF will die on the job either. I have had nightmares that I got a knock on the door in the middle of the night. I worry also that he will injur himself in some way that will permanently disable him. I try not to think about it or I will worry myself sick. I have done a lot to make our home clutter free so that in the event we were to have a fire, it would make escape routes easier and also make it safer for the FFs as well. I never thought about it til my husband became a FF.

Mrs. Lukie said...

I could have written this post myself, Katie! I don't fear that hubby will die on the job--I fear that he will be injured on the job & will have to stop doing the thing he loves most in life. THAT scares me.

And my hubby picked up a side job recently as a skills instructor at the local paramedic school about a month ago, too ;) He loves the teaching aspect, loves that he brings in extra money, and loves that this is something that he could fall back on should there be an injury or disability that causes him to leave the fire service.


S said...

Katie, there was just a situation similar to this in the Chicago area too - so sad, really.,0,3741448.story

Luckily no FFs were injured.

Katie said...

Anon, I think you're right, there are a lot of perfectly capable people who seem to be taking advantage of the system. :( Makes it that much harder on those doing the job when they really do need the help.

Shelly, knock on wood, I haven't had that nightmare yet. I try to keep my house relatively clutter free, too. Some days are better than others! Lol!

Mrs. Lukie--too funny that our husbands both picked up the same side job recently! I wonder what the most common side jobs for firefighters are. Teaching has to be up there, especially for paramedics. That, and working with a private ambulance company.

S--great article, well, sad article, but wow--that's exactly what I'm talking about. Thanks for the link. We should have National Hoarding Intervention Day, where relatives descend upon the houses of the hoarders in their family and throw stuff out.

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