One thing that I don’t think I have mentioned on the web site yet, but some of you may know, is that I am a probationary member of the Ferndale Volunteer Fire Department. Today I attended a training session where among other things, I got my first chance to drive a fire truck. They laid out a course where we had to perform several manuevers in forward and reverse, while trying to get the truck as close to certain cones while not knocking them over or going out of bounds.
The two hardest for me were parallel parking, shown in the picture, and the slalom. The picture shows the amount of room we had to slide into, and had the picture been taken of my attempt, it would look completely different. I was informed that had there been a car back there instead of cones, there would have been insurance paperwork to fill out.
The next obstacle to tackle was the slalom course. Everyone has seen these run on tv, usually with some very nimble sports car. Well let me tell you, a 30,000 lb fire truck is no sports car. Then to make it even harder, we had to back through the whole slalom. The problem with doing it backwards was that in order to see the cone in the rearview mirrors, you had to swing the truck around so hard, that it then made it hard to actually get around the cone without going out of bounds. All in all though, I made 5 errors that would have counted on the DMV test, and they allow you to make 11. But I will certainly want more practice before I go down to the DMV and try it for real.
The other sessions covered pump operation, helicopter procedures (watch out for the propellers was the short version), and aircraft rescue (dealing with airplane crashes, not rescuing by using airplanes). We were shown a great short movie and then several videos from actual local crashes. One was of an ambulance airplane that landed at McKinley Airport without the benefit of landing gear. I can imagine that pilot felt really stupid after that incident.
We’ve had a number of small earthquakes, starting at about 10:00 last night. 17 shakers in a 14 hour period.