Thursday, February 18, 2010

station placement

I dare say it is the luck of the draw as to which platoon, station, and shift you are placed once you graduate from fire training. I'd like to think that they place you according to your skills, location from home, potential chemistry with the rest of your crew but I am not sure they do. I know they shuffle people around if there's a big problem but generally it's 'get along, we're not here to babysit your personality conflicts'. I also know that they have never put two women on the same crew.

Some guys love being at the high call volume station. I personally don't. The older I get, the less resilient I become at recovering from a sleepless night of running around. The way I look at it is we are all paid the same amount regardless of how many calls we respond to. And often these high volume stations respond to false alarms more than anything. Super slow stations are great if you're headed for retirement but it's not a great place to gain experience. The key I think is to be somewhere in between.

I love my station and shift. We're a 2 truck hall so more toys to play with and more firefighters to share ideas with. We're near the lake, major highways, and we have different types of building structures... low and highrise, commercial, and residential, nursing homes, and schools. As such, we gain experience with medicals, water rescue, extrication, and of course, different modes of attacking a fire. The only thing that makes me a bit nervous about being at this station is that it's coined 'chemical alley'. There are some petrol and paint refineries, factories that make chemicals that I am not able to pronounce but know that they are extremely toxic. A few years ago one of the refineries a few miles away literally blew up. We were sitting in station when the concussion hit and it felt like a Mack truck drove into the side of the station. I have never seen fireballs and flames like I saw that evening. I would be lying if I said I wasn't a wee bit scared at that call but I think being a bit frightened keeps you aware and safe. Thank goodness I have a crew that I completely trust to watch my back at a call. When it all boils down, all that really matters about this job is coming home safe and sound to our families the next morning.

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