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April 25, 2014
By Jennifer Grigg

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April 25, 2014, Port Severn, Ont. – The tones went off for a structure fire. I was at work, so once I got the OK from my boss, I took off running across the parking lot to the fire hall. In retrospect, it probably looked more like skipping; after all, I was pretty excited about the prospect of a structure fire. (Not that I wish misfortune upon anyone, but everyone reading this knows exactly where I’m coming from.)

April 25, 2014, Port Severn, Ont. – The tones went off for a structure fire. I was at work, so once I got the OK from my boss, I took off running across the parking lot to the fire hall. In retrospect, it probably looked more like skipping; after all, I was pretty excited about the prospect of a structure fire. (Not that I wish misfortune upon anyone, but everyone reading this knows exactly where I’m coming from.)

The pumper sat in front of the hall with its lights on, the driver anxiously waiting for bodies to fill the seats.

As I approached the hall, pager in hand, I heard the captain requesting mutual aid from a neighbouring fire department. The call was a block from our Station 2, but no one responded. This is common among volunteer fire departments: one never knows how many firefighters will be available at any given time, especially during the day when many are at work.

Dispatch advised that it is a confirmed structure fire. Occupants were out of the building and one person suffered smoke inhalation.

Two of our stations were dispatched and the third booked on the air offering further manpower. Our captain instructed them to respond.

I jumped in my gear, grabbed my helmet and hopped in the back of the pumper – well, because our truck is so high, and I have short legs, it was more of a hike-my-leg-up-and-pull-myself-in, no hopping about it. Minion, who has been on the department for almost a year now, got in the back beside me – no hiking required. It was our first structure fire together. He was pumped. I was trying to stop my heart from beating out of my chest. Ahhh, the beloved adrenaline dump.

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It was a good 15-minute run to the call. On the way up the highway, my anticipation settled a bit and so did the adrenaline. Minion and I discussed what to do when we got there. We confirmed our plan of attack with the captain. It always seems like it takes forever to get to the call when we’re heading to the most northern part of our response area. In the past, we would be putting on our BAs so that we’d be packed up and ready to go when we got out of the truck. We can’t do that nowadays, and there’s good reason for it, but it made the drive seem even longer.

Our neighbouring fire department arrived on scene and established the water supply. Two firefighters responded from our hall nearby . . . on foot. One is a very green recruit, as in just finished the recruit course and hasn’t done live fire yet, and the other doesn’t have his DZ licence – only in a volunteer department.

However, you do the best you can with what you have at the time. The fire was confined to the second storey loft area and the two departments worked well together – or as well as can be expected when we rarely work together and each department has their own ways of doing things.

All in all, it was a good call. The one occupant that was initially transported to hospital was released the same day, Minion got his first structure fire under his belt, and I even let him have the nozzle when we were inside the building.

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Volunteer departments may, at times, have fewer resources, manpower and equipment than our full-time counterparts, but we are able to pull it all together and get the job done. And that, my friends, is what being a firefighter is all about.

Jennifer Mabee-Grigg has been a volunteer with the Township of Georgian Bay Fire Department in Ontario since 1997. E-mail her at jhook0312@yahoo.ca and follow her on Twitter at @jenmabee


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