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November 3, 2011
By Jennifer Grigg

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Blogger Jennifer Mabee is a volunteer firefighter with a passion for writing. She will blog regularly about her experiences with the Township of Georgian Bay Fire Department in Ontario. You can comment by scrolling to the bottom of the page.

Oct. 26, 2011 – Having just returned to the volunteer fire department, I was looking forward to my first training night on Monday. I made sure to arrive on time with my steel toed boots, coveralls and a box of Timbits for good measure. (OK, so I was a bit nervous and figured the Timbits would be a good icebreaker . . . silly me!)

Blogger Jennifer Mabee is a volunteer firefighter with a passion for
writing. She will blog regularly about her experiences with the Township
of Georgian Bay Fire Department in Ontario. You can
comment by scrolling to the bottom of the page.

Oct. 26, 2011 – Having just returned to the volunteer fire department, I was looking forward to my first training night on Monday. I made sure to arrive on time with my steel toed boots, coveralls and a box of Timbits for good measure. (OK, so I was a bit nervous and figured the Timbits would be a good icebreaker . . . silly me!)

After a quick chat with my district chief to go over some stuff, I went to help with the truck checks, which are done at the start of every training night. I was assigned to help with the checking the BAs, so off I went. (Important note: In the past year or so, our department switched to using MSA FireHawk packs. When I was there last, there was a mixture of old Scott 2.2s, newer Scotts and a couple of older Survivair packs with the blue rubber masks that would rip your hair out when you tried to take it off, and all of the pass alarms were separate units – they had to be turned on and off manually.)

But, I'm thinking, no problem, they can't be that different. So I find the firefighter checking the packs and he said to me, "You're familiar with these MSAs, right?" I looked at the pack, then at the firefighter, and thought,

"Uhhhh . . . should I tell him that they look totally foreign to me, and more complicated than the old ones we used to have where the pass alarm wasn't integrated and you didn't need to press certain buttons a certain number of times to get it to quit squealing at you, and when did things get so complicated?"

Instead, I said something like, "I used MSAs at the fire college, but that was a couple of years ago, and they were different from those."

And then, thinking to myself, "What am I doing here? How much am I going to have to re-learn? Will I remember any of this stuff? Maybe I''m too old for this. I just turned 40, isn't that enough of a challenge?"

Fortunately, I did not run fleeing from the building. I got over my moment and made a mental note to get someone to go over them with me later (later, like, when no one is around and I won't feel like such an idiot  for trying to figure out how to use a new pack that really shouldn't be such a big deal to learn how to use anyway. Especially since I had 10 years under my belt with the fire department, so technically, I'm not a total rookie, it's just been a few years! LOL.)

Carrying right along, truck checks completed, training video watched, we eventually got to the hands-on stuff, which is what firefighters are all about. The theory may be a necessary part, but what they're really thinking while watching the video is, "Get on with it so we can go burn something!" (And, lucky for me, they managed to scrounge up some gear that would fit me so I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in the training and not just watch!)

Ahhh, it's good to be back!

– – –

Jennifer Mabee is a volunteer with the Township of Georgian Bay Fire Department in Ontario. She began her fire fighting career with the Township of Georgian Bay in 1997 and became the department’s fire prevention officer in 2000 and a captain in 2003. She was a fire inspector with the City of Mississauga Fire and Emergency Services before taking time off to focus on family, and is excited to be back at it. E-mail her at jhook0312@yahoo.ca


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