Monday, 20 August 2012

What is a Fireman?


He’s a man’s man with the sharp memory of a little boy who never got over
the excitement of engines and sirens and smoke and anger.

He’s a guy like you and me with warts and worries and unfulfilled dreams.

Yet he stands taller than most of us.

He’s a fireman.

He puts it all on the line when the bell rings.

A fireman is at once the most fortunate and the least fortunate of men.

He’s a man who savours life because he has seen too much of death.
He’s a gentle man because he has seen to much
of the awesome power of violent forces out of control.
He’s a man responsive to a child’s laughter because
his arms have held too many small bodies that will never laugh again.

He’s a man who appreciates the simple pleasures of life,
hot coffee held in numb, unbending fingers, the flush of fresh air pumping through
 smoke and fire convulsing lungs,
a warm bed for bone and muscle beyond feeling,
the comraderie of brave men,
the divine peace of selfless service and a job well done in the name of all men.

He doesn’t wear buttons or wave flags or shout obscenities
 and when he marches, it is to honour a fallen comrade.

He doesn’t preach the brotherhood of man.
He lives it.

A Day in the Life of a Rookie Dispatcher


So late, so quiet.  The 24-hour clock reads 0317.  Three stamping time clocks 
acknowledge each minute out of unison.  Otherwise, silence.  Suddenly the 
alarm cuts and jump - starts my heart.  I grab the line.

“Fire Department Emergency.”  So firm, so sure, yet my insides turn.

This new world I have so recklessly taken on overwhelms me with its 
seriousness.  With each ring, I feel responsible for someone’s life.  I fumble the 
hot potato from hand to hand until I am able to pass it onto firefighters 
dragged from their dreams to those in need.

The intensity of the frightened woman’s voice shakes me to my core. 

 “Help me, please!  Oh God! Oh God!”
“Do you have a fire?”  I struggle to suppress my fear.
“Yes, yes.  Oh God please help!” she screams over me.
“What’s your address?”

Click - I have lost her.  My pulse races.  It’s late.  Everyone must be sleeping - 
children perhaps.  My partner grabs the printout.  We got an address!

I send out the alarm: 

“Pump 1, Tower 1, Pump 10, Rescue 6, 5-8, residential structure fire.”   
My throat tightens.  I gasp for much needed air and continue.  

“8200 128 Street.”  I provide tac assignments, grid numbers, hydrant 
locations to the sleepy-eyed firefighters.  I pass the hot potato.  Now I sit and 
wait, count and hope. Each second is an hour.   

“Pump 1, on scene.” The radio spits at me.  Thank God they’ve arrived.

“Two storey house, fully involved.  Tower 1 start search and rescue.  Pump 
10, catch that hydrant.”   

Time passes and I hear nothing.  Then, 

“Dispatch, Pump 1.  We report three rescued victims.  Smoke inhalation.   
Are ambulances responding?”

Fifteen minutes later, the fire is knocked down.  My heartbeat slows.  
I unclench my fists.  We didn’t lose anyone.

I’ve been part of this scary world for only three short weeks.  My first fire
is now behind me.  They say it gets easier, but right now that’s hard 
to believe.   Feeling so alone and afraid in this new world. 
I remind myself it’s all for the good.

I walk the room, then return to my console to wait for the next one.  
My partner,  who’s had 15 years of this, tosses her pen forward and 
falls back  into her chair.  She stares vacantly at me for a moment.   

“I thought we were going to lose someone.” She mutters. 

 And I see the relief on her face.

Perhaps it never does get easier.

Who Am I - Author Unknown

Arlene Pretty - Surrey Fire Service - Retired
Who Am I?

I am the voice that calms the mother when she calls stating; her child has started a fire
 while playing with matches.  Or the cooking pot on top of the stove caught on fire.

I am the invisible hand that holds and comforts the person reporting
their friend has been injured in a mountain climbing accident.

I am the friend who talks to the disgruntled caller when they cannot
breathe during open burning season.

I sent help when you had your first automobile accident.

I am the one who tries to obtain the information from callers to ensure that the scene
 is safe for those I dispatch to emergencies – all the while anticipating the worst
 and hoping for the best.

I am the psychologist who readily adapts my language and tone of voice
to serve the needs of my callers with compassion and understanding.

I am the ears that listen to the needs of all those I serve.

I have heard the screams of faceless people I never will meet, nor forget.

I have cried at the atrocities of mankind and rejoiced at the miracles of life.

I was there, though unseen by my comrades in the field during the most trying emergencies.

I have tried to visualize the scene to coincide with the voices I heard.

At times I am not privy to the outcome of a call, and so I wonder…

I am the one who works weekends, strange shifts and holidays. Children do not say they
 want my job when they grow up. Yet, I am at this vocation by choice.

Those I help very seldom call back to say thank you.

Still there is comfort in the challenge, integrity, and purpose of my employment.

I am thankful to provide such a meaningful service.

I am a mother, father, sister, brother, son or daughter.

I am where you need me and still here when you don’t.

The dispatch room is never empty, and the work here is never done.
I am always on call.  The training is strenuous, demanding and endless.
No two days at work are ever the same.

Who am I?

I am a Fire Dispatcher.