I arrived at the station and met with Battalion Chief Dave Messerschmidt and Captain/Paramedic Shannon Stone. Dave had a serious face and asked me, "Sean, what is your objective here?" I went into a rather long winded answer about the project and what I was hoping to get out of my time at the fire station. His serious face made it difficult to gauge his reaction.
After a slight pause, Dave calmly replied, "Well, that's great. My objective at the moment is to get breakfast." We all laughed and I felt at ease.
A tradition the guys have on weekend is to visit a local diner for breakfast. We didn't want to break tradition, so away we went to start the day off with a good meal. Afterwards we got into some training.
I learned about the use of ropes and harnesses that are used in situations when the fire can't be attacked by ladder. I also got the chance to use the Jaws Of Life. That was an awesome experience, the sheer power of that tool is incredible. It cuts through a car like a knife through butter.
It was great that they quickly accepted both Ian and myself into their group even though we were only there for a short while. I have have always been involved in team sports growing up and in College. The comradeship and interaction among them reminded me of that unique team dynamic - working together to achieve a common goal.
Firefighters are tough (some may even say intimidating). Though I must say these guys are extremely good people. They have integrity and a great sense of what is "right."
As the Battalion Chief said, "Yes, we are like family here, all brothers and sisters. That being said, you don't want to screw with us." Though he added, "You must have a sense of humor to be this profession."