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A new challenge.




Sometimes, we happen to be in the right place at the right time, but it takes training and expierence to make a difference.

2010, the year that should have ended my firefighting career.
The newly formed county FD was preforming budget cuts all around, (and hiring highly paid managers) and one of those measures was to reduce the cost of the full time crews.
In reality it meant that the 24 hour crews would be laid off except for a select few that were gonna work from 9 to 5, and the rest of the day and night the first out Engine was to be manned by volunteers when there was a call. 

In the transition period, I worked a few months in the city of Goes, but that was not going to last either as the the same method was applied to their 24 hour shifts.
So I found myself out of a job for a while, then I worked as a fire guard at a local drydock, but that was also not permanent as I was deemed to have too expensive as I had my firefighter certificate and several specialisations.

So one day I stumbled across a job ad at my dads old department in the city of Antwerp, so I applied.
Went through all tests and for some strange reason, they hired me! (lol)
Had to get used to several differences, as Antwerps methods are a little more agressive.
Did a few weeks at the training grounds to get used to the methods and differences in equipment, but then I was stationed at Station North, the biggest and most busy station in the city. 
Most older guys there had served with my father, so it was a warm welcome, but I didn't recieve any special treatment from them, still had to do my rookie period.
And I can still taste the shaving cream that shot out of my locker one day but I'm getting carried away. 

Then came the big one, in the city centre, a appartment building was ablaze, and we did the job like clockwork, had to evacuate 15 people by aerials and ground ladders because the 18th century building had no fire escapes and the only route out was blocked by the fire.
Me and my buddy were doing a second search in a smoke filled appartment next door, no visibility, heat and unlogical layout of the appartment,  that was literal hell to do a search in.
I focussed on the faint light of our flashlights and the light of my buddies SCBA pack.
Then the unmistakeable sound was heard of PASS device and followed by a mayday call.
My blood froze and my buddy grabbed me and asked if I was okay, after confirming I was good, we headed out, but we were one floor below the downed firefighter, my buddy radioed in and asked if we could go up as RIT/FAST, we got the green light as the RIT/FAST team was having trouble getting up the stairs as conditions worsened.
We asked for a ladder at the 3rd floor alpha balcony door, as that was our planned egress route should it all go to hell.
Through the thick smoke (and it being 7am in January) we eventually got to our downed brother, he was still breathing but had having trouble moving.
It took all 3 of us to move him to the balcony door and in the bucket of the ladder truck.
Then we were brought down as our SCBA bottles were low on air and the stairway had schanged into a fireball due to smoke ignition.
After a bottle change and a drink we were ordered to relive a hose crew and mop up the remaining fires as the others knocked down the bulk of the fire.
Luckily there were no fatalities or injuries, only a resident with a mild smoke intoxication.

The downed firefighter was transported to hospital, but was released a few hours later, it was luckily only a heat exaustion.
But the week after that, we trained extra on removing a downed firefighter, just to be extra ready if it happened again.
And at the end of the week, I was called to the Engine bay of the station by the Battalion Chief , and I thought I was in trouble cause he sounded mad as hell.
So by the Engine, Chief closed one of the roll up doors on the rig and yelled at me "Now you come here to fill your dads boots! And now you do this!" I was almost sure I was getting fired.
He continued "Next time you do that, do it again cause it earned you a promotion" I was speechless for a few seconds, and was snapped out of it by a 10 gallon drum of water being emptied on my head from the ladder rack of the engine.
Extremely wet, I was handed my shoulder insignias that upped my rank from rookie to firefighter.
Proud of my accomplishment, I squeaked to the locker rooms to get changed and applied my new insignias to my uniforms.
But I could not get the slogan out of my head, that was used in a PC game in my early teens, and it was from the Late LAPD Chief Daryl F. Gates: "As you train, so shall you fight" and it true, never stop learning.



Edited by MM1986

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