Sunday, December 30, 2007

First Fire Station Tour

One thing I love about Christmas time is seeing old friends. My friend Kristin lives in NYC now, but she came home with husband David and son, Sebastian, to visit family for Christmas. We decided to hang out a bit this past Thursday. Kristin and her sister, Erin, invited us to visit a fire station with them. Everyone met at our house for lunch and then we were off to the fire house! Erin's husband, Jeff, is a fire fighter.

Did you know that firemen, when on duty, have to take their fire trucks with them wherever they go? That makes it sound like they tuck them in their pockets instead of driving them, but you get the picture: the grocery story, the gas station, or even 7-11. If the fireman has to run an errand, he has to drive his truck with his full crew. While we were at the station the firemen needed to go to the grocery story, so they all piled in the fire engine and off they went. Jeff said that firemen always stay with their truck (and crew) in case there is a call out. He didn't have to go on the grocery run because he wasn't on the crew of that truck. Each fireman has a specific position within the fire house. Jeff is the engineer on the bucket truck named Tower 8.

Prior to all of this touring and talking of fire house living, Jeff gave the kids (Collin, Blake, and Sebastian) a tour of the truck and a ride in the bucket. They tried on Jeff's helmet. Do you call it a helmet? or a hat? or head gear? Now I'm missing some specialized vocabulary! Each boy got a chance to sit in the driver's seat! One of Jeff's buddies on the truck fitted the seat with a special contraption he called "the rat booster." The seat sits on what looks like an accordion lift. And Mr. Rat, I presume, uses the block of wood to keep the seat up where he needs it. Kristin wanted it out of the pictures though; sometimes, for mom's, it's all about the pictures. I snapped a quick one with the real booster in place.

After the truck climb and drive, Jeff got the engine ready to take the kids up. The truck has hug stabilizers that come out from the body of the truck, lift the engine up and then settle it back down on the four pneumatic posts. Jeff took Collin and his son, Blake, up first. As I watched them go higher and higher I worried that Collin would get scared. It hadn't even crossed my mind that the ride up would get to him. Then I figured, heck, Jeff's a fireman, if Collin panics, he can handle it! At one point, Erin looked at me and said "Are you going to go up?"

"No I don't think so" was my first response, but then I realized something. When else would I have the opportunity to go up in a fire truck's bucket? Uninjured? Never--that's right. So I told Erin, she and I were going up next! The bucket has some movement or swing, but aside from that it was steady and smooth going up. We were up so high I could hardly see the kids below. Jeff said the truck can go 10 stories, but that they generally only need to go up 2-3 stories during a fire.

Collin's favorite part of the tour was not riding up in the bucket, nor was it seeing all of the fireman's recliners in front of the TV in the station house. Nope, he loved riding in the truck. Jeff outfitted he and Black with headphones and set them up in the jump seat. David with Sebastian on his lap rode in front--off they went horns honking and sirens screeching.

Riding fire trucks, touring stations, and getting the inside scoop on all things fireman-related. What more could a six-year-old ask for? How about an alligator that comes when you call it? Go ahead and say it: dangerous nuisance. Yes, lucky for us Jeff's shift (there are three A, B, & C shifts) is not the shift that's apparently feeding the gator, but someone is because it continues to hang out in the retention pond and when you clap your hangs or jangle keys it crosses the pond to come and see you. Can you say Pavlov?

To see all of the fire station pictures stop by my flickr page.

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