Editor’s note: this is the first article in a series entitled “The Day in the Life of…” that will run the first Thursday of each month.
I spent the day waiting for sirens to blare.
I had envisioned myself sprinting for a red engine truck, possibly sliding down a firehouse pole and leaping in the truck at the last second as we raced to save Yadkinville residents from a blazing inferno.
While this is not the way my experience with the Yadkinville Fire Department really happened, it was still a great learning experience and a chance to spend time with some of the county’s bravest men.
I arrived at the fire station around 8:30 that morning, and to my disappointment the team had already responded to two calls. The first call took them to a resident’s house that had only managed to set the breakfast on fire. The other ended up being a false alarm.
I tried not to lose hope though. We had nine hours ahead of us and anything could happen during that time.
Darrell Williams, the captain, informed me that the team would be working on checking hoses today when they weren’t responding to calls. The state requires that all fire departments check all the hoses in their facilities once a year.
We stepped out into what felt like arctic cold after the 80-degree temperatures we had enjoyed just days before. The team went to work laying out nearly a mile of hose across the parking lot of the station.
Each hose was hooked to the station hydrant and tested at a water pressure of 400 PSI. As the water worked its way through the hose it looked like a snake coming to life along the pavement.
We all stood on edge nearby because a weak spot near a connector in the hoses could mean 400 pounds of water pummeling you to the ground and very wet clothes to get you through a chilly day.
The team ended up finding nearly $3,500 to $3,800 in damaged hose that had to be removed from the trucks and documented so that it could be replaced. Many sections of this hose had served the station since the early to mid 1990s.
The team was then tasked with rolling up each hose, made easier by a grant funded hose roller. Jody Doss, assistant fire chief, then supervised the replacement of the hose back to the trucks with a very specific agenda as to how the hose should lay.
Several visitors came by during the hose inspection and each body through the door found some way to help his comrades.
After a few hours of hard work the team retired to the Engine Room to enjoy some lunch. The Engine Room is bright red, lined with silver, metallic embellishment made to look like the footsteps on the fire trucks.
The guys all gather their food; some bring take out, some bring leftovers from home. They watch the news and shoot insults at each other in playful exchanges; an occasional pause comes when the radio comes on and they wait to see if we’ll all be leaping into action.
After another hour passes with no action the crew decides that I need to experience a trip up in the bucket. The bucket is attached to a ladder that can reach 95 feet into the air or 105 feet if set at a 90 degree angle.
They get me geared up with a repelling-esque belt with hooks, and Alan Dunn, a firefighter, provides me with his helmet. I have to walk the length of the truck on ladder rungs to get to the cab where the bucket is located; no easy feet in slippery dress flats.
Once in the bucket, Weston Parks and Paul Driver, both volunteer firefighters, get me hooked in for safety and we begin our ascent. We get to about 80 feet in the air and the wind starts to pick up.
We sway in the bucket while looking down on those remaining on the ground that are starting to resemble ants. Parks takes some wind gust measurements that hit around 8 to 10 miles per hour and decides we’ll be brave and climb a little higher. We top out at about 90 feet at a 45-degree angle. I confirm my belief that I am not afraid of heights.
Once we safely back on the ground and the truck is tucked away back in its place the guys decide to show me what their firefighting gear consists of. The entire outfit consists of 10 fire retardant pieces. Firefighters have to be geared up in their entire outfit in about a minute or less.
Dunn decides that I need to see a race to see just how much work that is in a short amount of time. He puts Driver and Parks in a head to head battle to see who can gear up the fastest.
In a blur of yellow the two throw on their gear with the precision of a pro and both are dressed at a minute and 30 seconds. They even include their oxygen packs and face masks that they wouldn’t typically put on before getting in the truck.
Dunn, Driver and Parks then decide that it’s my turn to don the firefighter apparel. They help me navigate my way into the layers of clothes and once I’m fully attired in the gear I look a bit like a child in his or her parent’s clothes. Based on the weight of the gear I imagine that I would make one of the slowest firefighters to race to the scene as I struggle to raise my arm above my head.
The day drew to an end after that and despite the odds we had not received a single call that required the shiny, red trucks to leave their home. While I was disappointed that I still couldn’t mark a ride in a fire truck off my bucket list, I was thankful that I had the opportunity to spend the day learning about the day to day life of some of the Yadkin County’s bravest individuals.
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.