I've mentioned before that, in general, I don't worry about my husband on the job. I don't lose sleep (well, not a lot, anyway,) thinking about all of the potential diseases that he could come in contact with. I am excited to hear about the times he gets to go interior on a structure fire. The vehicle accidents and accompanying trauma situations are interesting.
I'm not overly worried about him being on the side of a busy road. People tend to slow down and rubberneck when passing an accident (thank you, high-profile sparkly fire vehicles!) High angle rescue—he's supported by a rope; I'm okay with that.
Brush fires can be massive and potentially very dangerous, but realistically, he is more likely to get injured by twisting his ankle walking on rough terrain or getting blisters from the draining physical labor.
Maybe I should worry more about these potentially dangerous situations. Recently, my husband did something for the first time in the fire service. It is the only call to date that has caused me to pause and hope that he makes it through okay.
There are several reasons why I don't like it when he goes up on the roof of a burning building.
Problem 1 - He could potentially fall through a weak part of the roof, into the burning structure below him. There's just something inherently wrong about standing on top of flammable material—material that's been on fire for a while. When he cuts into a roof (similar to the training structure seen here), the skinny trail of space that his chain saw leaves behind seeps smoke.
That can't be good. Well, good for the firefighters below who need visibility, but not good for the wife of the guy up top who is at home hoping he doesn't fall through.
Problem 2 - There are some aspects, important aspects, that are out of the control of my firefighter. He has to rely on the guy "sounding" the roof, basically whacking it as hard as he can to make sure it's stable. It's literally a leap of faith, walking on a surface that someone else tells him is safe. At this point, since he's relatively new to the service, relying on someone else with much more experience to tell him where to step is probably not a bad thing. Still—it's hard for me to know that an essential safety precaution is in the hands of someone else.
Problem 3 - Not only could he fall through the roof, but he could fall off off it, as well. Did you know that as a general procedure, firefighters don't tie themselves off when they go on a roof? The reason being, they don't want to be hooked to it if something goes wrong and they need to get off quick. They are at the mercy of balance and gravity while they're up there. What makes it worse is that he's up on a slanted surface in full, clumsy-looking protective gear, carrying awkward and heavy equipment. Those turnout boots look more like rubber skis to me—sorry, leather skis. Add rain—or worse, snow—to the top of that roof, and it seems like a disaster waiting to happen.
Yeah—not a fan of roof ops. Mercifully, I won't hear about him doing vertical ventilation until after it happens. I don't understand why they can't find a way to tie themselves off—if not to the roof, then to the ladder, maybe. Would someone please come up with a quick and easy securing mechanism that has an emergency release? Don't rock climbers already have some similar type of set-up? I know, I know. There's probably some valid reason why it wouldn't work. But still—it would make me feel a whole heck of a lot better to know he is less likely to fall!
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