When a Flashlight isn't Enough
Hello from the Jumpseat. As the sun sets on another evening riding backwards we stand ready for the next fire. With my flashlight charged and ready, let the bells ring out "structure fire." Maybe you are asking yourself "Is he seriou, is he taking the time to write a blog post about a flashlight?" Yep, and with two points in mind here it goes.
First: "bring your own light!" because as much as you are my brother or sister firefighter you are not borrowing mine. Yes I said it; they named a street after me in every town: One Way. Your department places them on the trucks or issues one to you and it is not my job to make sure you carry one. It never fails that on every fire I have someone is asking, "hey, let me borrow your light." Usually these are the same people that make fun of me when we make the news because you can see my lights from space.
Well, my answer is no. I am responsible to bring my equipment, not yours. I learned a lesson early in my career that when the fire is knocked down, darkened down, and someone takes your light while leaving you in a room by yourself without a light it is not a good feeling. I know that we are trained to work in zero visibility but we also are trained to show up at the fire building ready for work with tools and a flashlight. Why would we stay in these conditions when the department gives us flashlights?
The second point is that a flashlight will not force a door, pull a ceiling, or break out a window. It takes tools to do that. When you go to the flashlight holder and grab your light also grab a tool. Unless you have a hose in your hands they should be filled with tools. If you have a hose in your hand maybe you should have a tool tucked into your SBCA waist strap. Being a good firefighter is being prepared for work when the airbrakes are set. None of us want to be the company that gets passed by because you are on the way back to get tools. We all want to be the company that everyone knows that is always prepared.
In closing I would like to give a shout out to my lieutenant on my engine for the inspiration for this blog post. Matt called me after they ran a fire that I was home for, and we spoke about how our crew is always ready to go. I have the honor of serving with a crew that is what the fire service should be about, the job! They always show up with their tools in hand and flashlights at the ready while sometimes passing by companies who are not quite as prepared.
So next time you make fun of the guy who has more flashlights than an orbiting spaceship, maybe they have things figured out because they can see what's going on. Most important is that even with those 12 flashlights you need to have a tool in your hand when it's time for work.
Thanks for the visit to the Jumpseat.
Bunker up, buckle in, and remember that we all start in the Jumpseat!