Rolling Along

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It has been a while since my last blog post and although I probably should have blogged earlier, I was down in Eugene for tennis and had a few other things going on so I put off blogging about my 2nd long day working.  As I usually do, I showed up at 8am at the same fire station that I had been going to.  It was pretty empty and I didn't recognize any of the firemen walking around the station.  Then one of them asked me what I was up to and I asked for the Lt. that I was supposed to be following around that day.  I was told that I had to go to the South Shore Station because the Jean Road station was having their floors re-done.  None of the firemen realized this was happening either so they were all a little stressed out.  What ended up happening was that two different companies were supposed to be running out of the South Shore station and so it was a pretty crowded place.  What I wasn't expecting with such a big crowd was the practical jokes that were played between the two different crews.  They were all light-hearted jokes but it made the tense situation a lot less so by lightening the mood.  The firefighters were used to making do with what the scenario was.  Sadly, the only call that I got that day was a fire alarm call that was canceled within seconds of leaving the station and so there was a lot of down time.  Luckily for me though, there was a probational firefighter in the company that I was shadowing.  The new hires to the position of firefighter (the lowest position) go through a 12 month probational period where they are tested on their knowledge of either hoses or the fire truck/fire engine etc.  The firefighter was learning how to use some pretty cool equipment and so that was definitely the highlight of the day for me.  He was simulating a scenario where a person had their legs trapped underneath a tire of a vehicle and needed to raise the vehicle off of the man.   What they use for this is an airbag that is about an inch or two thing and in the shape of a square (maybe 2ft x 2ft) that is made out of layers of woven Kevlar and plastic.  They are extremely durable and powerful!  If i can remember correct one of those airbags can lift about 20 tons! I believe it had about 60,000 lbs of force.  It is connected to a bottle of compressed air and is also connected to a few controls that inflate and deflate the airbag on command.  Sure enough the airbag began to inflate and raised a suburban with easy about 8-10 inches.  Although it was a slow day, it was pretty informative and still quite interesting.