I haven't been around much and a lot has to do with a second job I've taken on. I'm working on becoming an On Call Fire Fighter and I'm loving the process. I've always wanted to do it, but always felt I was too big to do it. I've got more in shape over the last few years and felt I could do the job, so I've got on my local dept and started the training.

It's been since December that I've been on the department and in January I started the Fire Academy. I love the job and love being around the fire house. If anyone ever has thought about becoming an on call fireman but doesn't think they have what it takes, I say give it a try. Most can do it and it's one of the coolest things I've ever done. Outside of family, it's the most rewarding thing in my life.

This morning my pager went off at 2:30, there was a fire in Now Then, a neighboring town and they needed a tanker from us to bring water to them. I shot out of bed and got to the house. There were already two guys there loaded up in the truck and heading out. Drats, I missed the action!! So I chilled at the house with a couple of other guys and soon some more trickled in and we chatted a little. Then the call came across that they needed a couple of more engines and teams of firefighters to work the fire. There wasn't many of us, my assistant chief looked at me and said "you can go".

We got geared up and on the truck. I've had some training but not a lot. I've had enough to know how to use the SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) and feel very confident in my senior firefighters that they won't put me in harms way. We arrived at the scene and saw a good sized fire going on.

Two of my team went on a hose while myself and the other went to setup a rehab area. This is used for teams who have been fighting the fire for a while to rest and get water and such. Once we were done with that we went to the back of the building. We started to pull down the steel siding with our hand and punched holes in it with axes to expose the fire so others could get to it with the hose. Not often you get to destroy a building but it has to be done to extinguish the flames. We did this along the entire side of the building then got pulled to the next side for the same thing. We then got moved to another side where we were united with another guy from our house. He was on a hose, looked at me and asked if I had run a hose before. After I replied no, he gave me a crash course on it and put me on the nozzle!!! This was my time to do battle with some flames. They weren't huge but you have to get it all out, smoldering embers, small flames, watch for the ones that shoot up and even wait for some to come up then hit them with water. It's a rush!!

By this time we had been there for nearly two hours. My turnout gear was covered in ice from the water spray back. I had gone through both pair of my gloves and my fingers were going numb. I asked if I could go warm up in the truck and was told I could. After a fifteen minute break or so, I headed back to the A side (front) of the structure. My lieutenant called me and had me come to the into the smoldering structure.

There were still pockets of flames, smoldering embers and a collapsed ceiling that we needed to deal with. I was again given the opportunity to run the hose while the senior guys explained what they were looking for in the structure as well as how the fire works. There are certain things you look for in a burn and there's a lot to learn. Our safety, of course, is always the top priority. We made our way through parts of it putting out what we saw. Then were called to the front office part to put out more flames. There were a couple windows to break out, that excites a few people. After a few hours we had it under control where the home fire dept could handle it and we headed back to our town and firehouse. We left behind us a structure that was a total loss.

I would never wish a fire on anyone. They are devastating. Unfortunately, fires happen. As a firefighter they are exciting and if they happen I'm happy to be part of a brotherhood that's there to help people and ensure their safety. Structures can be replaced. Ensuring no one is lost is the key component.

Here is the story of the fire from this morning: Fire Destroys Building at Anoka County Pet Cremation Business
Shane E. Hendricks - AKA Sandmannd

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