One of my first blogs was my story and how I got to be a Fire Wife. And how much I HATED being a Fire Wife. Not really being a Fire WIFE, just hating the fire service. Thankfully, with the help of a great group of women, an amazing leader (Lori Mercer) and some inner reflection, I grew to love my husband’s other love: the Fire Service.
Fast forward a few years to the summer of 2014. In August of 2014 I remember being at the station and asking our Chief if I could have a brief conversation with him. I had decided to take Scene Support Operations (intro level course to being certifiable). Our Chief was an instructor and I wanted to take the class with him. It just so happened…… he was teaching it in September at a neighboring District. Well…. I wasn’t getting out of it now. I look back and ask myself, “What was I thinking?”
I was issued bunkers, gloves, helmet (it’s red, not black, but it’s a helmet) and any other piece of PPE that would keep me safe at an incident. Thank God Andy was on board with this. That Fire Wife: yeah, she made her husband (Assistant Chief) take the intro level class with her. That’s right, an Assistant Chief in a class for probies. Actually, I didn’t make him take it. He offered as soon as he knew it was what I really wanted to do. I wanted to do it for so many reasons: personal satisfaction, the drive to succeed, the need to help others.
At the same time I decided to take Scene Support Operations, one of our Jr. members was taking Firefighter I. This was the perfect training opportunity for both of us. We drilled on ladders, knots, Donning and Doffing. He helped me more than I helped him but it was great having someone working on some of the same skills as I was at the same time. Then, another Jr. Firefighter decided she was going to take Scene Support Operations with me. She drilled with us. We worked at the skills we would need to pass our practical exam. Now the Chief calls us the Bobbsey Twins. I enjoy teaming up with Chris and Sarah. Together we strive to improve our skills, learn as much as we can and be a helpful part of an awesome team.
That’s me at the top of that ladder!
The class was 2 nights a week for 2 weeks and 1 all day Saturday. I have to say the classroom part was not nearly as exciting (sorry Chief) as the hands on. The practical (an all day Saturday event) was awesome. I learned so much from our Instructors. I learned I can do a leg lock on a ladder (now that’s just crazy in today’s world with harnesses, but I learned how to do it), I learned more about an SCBA then I had learned training with Chris. I learned how to pack hose, I learned how to use a fire extinguisher (that probably sounds odd but there is a special way to do it). My personal best, walking on the roof of a building. I was scared of heights (still not my most favorite thing) but now I know I can conquer that and climb the ladder to the roof. But best of all, I was able to get on a hose line. That won my heart. Having the feeling of that charged line in your hand, knowing you have an awesome person behind you. That was the icing on the cake. Those are the moments I realized I had made the right decision and that I could do this.
Well, my brain said I could do this. My body said, “What in the good Lord’s name are you doing girl? You are 40 years old. You do this crap when you are 25-30 not 40. Your knees can’t take the pain you are inflicting on them. Stop this girl before you hurt yourself.” I laughed at my body and said, “this is my goal, you are not getting in my way.” But I can say Scene Support kicked my butt in a good way. I’ve continued to get healthier by losing weight and becoming committed to a healthy body.
I accomplished my goal. I got my certificate. So did Sarah. I’m proud of the hard work she put into that class. She worked her butt off. Chris he passed Firefighter I. The smile on his face when my firefighter handed him his certificate and black helmet will never be forgotten. We all earned those certs.
My training partner.
I DID IT!
So…. yeah me!!! I was certifiably a Firefighter now. One small teensy problem. Andy and I never discussed how we would handle this new aspect of our relationship. Remember that Type A personality thing I mentioned before? How well do you think I like taking orders? Yeah…. not so much. Add to that those orders are coming from my husband no less. Well….. we were right back to the screaming matches. At least we kept it at home and not at incidents. This was a whole new level in our marriage. I think we have come to a mutual agreement. It’s still hard for me to remember that at the Station or at an incident, he’s my (gulp) Superior Officer. NOT my husband. That’s difficult. But I think we are getting better at it. He’s a great training partner. I enjoy our cardio walks and work out sessions. He pushes me to be the best that I can.
Love of My Life. He’s now officially, MY Assistant Chief.