Part two: A day in the life of an Airdrie firefighter
I spent 14 hours with the Airdrie Fire Department, C Platoon on Aug. 9, and although I was originally schedule to complete 24 hours, I didnít make it.
Aug. 22 would be my second, and final scheduled shift with the firefighters, and I had one goal in mind: make it the full 24 hours.
I arrived at the Chinook Winds hall at 8 a.m., and because Captain Mike Pirie was on holidays, I was greeted by Acting Captain Richard Stone. He is passionate about his work, evident by his demeanour and the way he plans his day.
Today will be another busy day for C-Platoon as the guys at Station 87 on Main Street will be completing their annual fitness testing with peer fitness trainer Brad Larway and my crew, made up of Lieutenant Chris Stone, Firefighter Dalton Lodoen and Firefighter Jimmy Barnett, will be doing some aerial training.
The crew at Station 88 (Kings Heights) will be assisting Community Safety Officer Russ McKeague with the inspection of a local hotel. I was brought over to Engine 87 to see the rigours of fitness training. As I said in my last story with the fire department, the men and women who serve are extremely professional and take their physical fitness very seriously.
Firefighter Larway conducts the yearly review for his peers, the whole process takes about a half hour, and looks at each of the important strength and fitness aspects of a firefighter. I watched firefighter Kevin Dixon undergo the testing. Dixon broke all his records from the previous year.
After the fitness testing, I headed back to Station 89 to partake in some aerial training. This is a process in which the firefighters hang a traffic cone off the end of one of the large ladders, and try to place it in on another, stationary cone either on the ground or on the building. This method of training keeps a firefighters depth of field while operating the ladder tip top.
After cleaning up, and readying everything for a quick exit, or what the professionals call an 80-second shoot time, we had a quick bite to eat.
After lunch, I joined Inspector McKeague on an inspection to a local hotel. The purpose of the fire inspection is to make the owners, operators and employees aware of the need for emergency plans, ensure fire department access and to check the fire suppression equipment as well as other infrastructure that will help slow or suppress the spread of fire.
The multi-story building we inspected had a couple of fire extinguishers that needed to be inspected, and a couple of emergency lights that needed to be replaced, but otherwise the inspection went well.
Afterwards, we headed back to Station 89 to clean the hall and get ready for dinner. We hadnít had a call all day, so we took advantage of the quiet afternoon and ran to the grocery store to grab something to eat.
After an amazing homemade burger dinner, put together by firefighter/chef Barnett, we chatted over the dayís events and plugged in a movie. Shortly after the movie, at about 11:30 p.m. we got our first call of the day.
It was a public assist, medical call in Luxtone for an elderly individual with chest pains. The adrenaline you feel when you go from talking to Captain Stone to running down the hallways putting on your gear and hopping in the truck, is amazing. I am still not privy to a lot of the codes that are said over the intercoms, so I was unaware what exactly we were heading to.
This call was simply to assist local EMS personnel with the individual, get equipment, and help with the stretcher. The individual was transported to hospital in stable condition, and we headed back to the hall.
As soon as we got back, I hit the pillow and fell asleep. It wasnít a deep sleep, as I felt that I needed to be on the ball for another call. At about midnight, we got that second call.
The alarm sounds in the hall went from relatively quiet to very loud, then the dispatcher takes over and describes the call. This time it would be an odour investigation in Cooperís Crossing.
We arrived at the scene to see two homeowners standing outside their homes complaining of a skunky/petrol aroma that had been in the air for the previous couple of hours.
After looking around, or smelling around, we decided to head towards an ATCO site to sniff around there to see if something may have leaked that night, but found nothing. Again, it was back to the hall and back to bed. I woke up the next morning to the crew over the intercom saying, ďReporter, time to get out of bed!Ē It was 7:30 a.m. and I prayed I hadnít missed any calls. As it turned out, I hadnít.
I enjoyed the two shifts I spent with C-Shift. The men and women who serve under Captain Pirie are a very professional bunch, and I know that if I ever have a problem requiring the assistance of firefighters, I will feel confident dialing up the Airdrie Fire Department.