Tuesday Jan 27 2009
Preparation is life in the firehouse
By: Jason Brooks South Placer Fire District
As a firefighter one of the most common questions I am asked is, “What do the firefighters do when they are not on an emergency?” It is difficult for many people to have an understanding of the fire service industry as it is not like most jobs or careers. Generally the public sees us when we are performing our service. What they don’t see is our preparation to meet their needs. To insure our personnel are prepared for the emergency, we are required to have a minimum of two hours of training per shift. We may combine several stations and have a simulated emergency; or we may have classroom style training at the training center or stay at the station and complete assignments on computer based training programs. We are allowed one hour of physical fitness time. The annual training requirements for firefighters are overwhelming and would be an article by itself. To insure that our equipment is ready for deployment, every piece of equipment is inspected daily. Additionally every employee has a special assignment that they are to manage during slow times. The employee is responsible for all aspects of the assignment from purchasing, budgeting, repair and maintenance, future replacements, keeping up with the changes in technology or needs of the district under the direction of a chief officer. All stations have daily work that needs to be completed. Some of the assignments include business safety inspections, community functions, public education, area familiarization and fire equipment inspection. Each station has a captain that handles the administration functions of the station and its personnel and ensures that all the work is completed. Why a fire station is called a firehouse? We live there one-third of our lives. During our typical day we do the same chores in the firehouse that you normally do in your homes. The lawns need to be mowed, the station grounds need to be kept up, the station needs to be repainted, and the windows need to be cleaned. Keep in mind that our shifts are 24 hours long, and we don’t have Mom to feed us, do our laundry and wash the dishes. We keep the station clean at all times, ready to be seen by the public. There are three meal times for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Generally, we all pitch in, make one trip to the store and eat at the station so we can staff the different types of apparatus for different types of emergency calls. We have many assignments, chores and responsibilities that we take care of daily to meet our mission to protect the lives and property of the community from the adverse effects of fires, sudden medical emergencies or exposure to dangerous conditions created by either man or nature. – Jason Brooks is the “B shift” battalion chief for the South Placer Fire District. He began his career in the fire service as a live-in firefighter in 1988 and has worked as a paramedic and EMS administrator. He resides in Foresthill with his wife and two children.