Exhausted But Happy!

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I now have a clue how to fight fires in buildings. This wasn’t what I’d planned to do today, but that’s how the day unfolded! (If you’re new to this blog, read about how I joined the volunteer fire department here.)

I started out with three things in my plan for the day: to have lunch with a friend, come home and finish the index for my book, and go for a workout. I had a very nice lunch with my friend and she suggested I come to a meeting at the town office with her, to work on strategies to help people be more physically active in and around town. About three-quarters of the way through the meeting, my pager went off — we were needed for a fire in a small native community about 100 km away. Off I went, grabbing my purse and winter coat and basically running out of the meeting. When I got to the fire hall, I wasn’t even the first person there (unbelievably, since I only had to drive a few blocks). I heard there would be a slight delay as the closer fire department had to be called and consulted with. But those of us who were there hung around and sure enough, we were dispatched to help. Off we go!

me in my firefighter gear
My helmet always seems to be a little crooked.

Now it’s not all thrills and excitement — we had about an hour’s drive to get there (more proof we live in the middle of nowhere). We arrived safely and we got to work setting up hoses, a water supply and whatnot. Before long, another firefighter showed me how to work the hose and I was spraying water on the hot spots. The building was very much toast when we got there, and no one was inside or anything, so we just had to get the fire out enough so that it wouldn’t cause trouble by reigniting. It was such hard work, and handling a charged hose was completely new to me. Sure, I’d used pressure washers, but fire hoses are the ultimate! Anyway, I ran the hose in front of the building and on the side, and on the back… With my right hand, my left hand, both hands. We lugged them all over, which got harder and harder as we went and the lines started to freeze up. They are incredibly heavy when they are full of water, and even heavier when full of ice and all stiff. Crazy.

I don’t want to give the impression that I worked for every single minute. I got to see a couple of friends who live there, which was really nice. When I had the chance, I warmed up and drank some ice-cold water. Are you noticing a theme here? :) It was cold, about -20 C, but I shouldn’t complain. My fellow firefighters tackled a house fire last week when it was -37 with a wind (I was out of town, so I missed that one). Part of me wonders how things can even burn when it’s that cold, but they do! But water doesn’t flow well, hoses become twisted stiff bastards, toes and gloves freeze. Tonight, my pants even froze. They had a coating of ice all over them, and my mitts were so stiff, I could barely use my hands at times. Not because they were cold — the insulating mitts rock! — just because they were so stiff with ice on the outside. Finally, our work was done and we heaved all the frozen hose onto the truck and started the drive back.

As we drove, I was physically tired and a little sore, but mentally, I felt like I could do anything! I can tackle any other challenge, stop procrastinating, be uncomfortable, work hard and just do it, no sweat! What a feeling! It was probably a bit of an endorphin high, but it was great! :) Great payoff for working, uh, more hours than I’d like to count. So I’m going to remember that feeling to motivate myself when I feel less-than-awesome!

I’m exhausted. My muscles worked to their limits at times. I have brand new straight-out-of-the-box biceps. I lugged hose until I was breathing heavy and my legs were weak. So I definitely got that workout I was planning for, just not the way I had planned it! :)

Related blog posts: My First Fire Fighting Calls | Ice Rescue

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3 thoughts on “Exhausted But Happy!

    chris said:
    January 28, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    I’ve always had the utmost respect for firefighters – especially when it gets nasty cold. That now includes you.

    Melissa McKeown said:
    January 30, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Teresa;
    You did a great job out there, Keep up the good work!
    As more calls you go on and more you do each time you will be more comfortable, and become to love it even more each time you go out.
    Again great job keep up the good work!

    Teresa responded:
    January 31, 2011 at 1:57 am

    Thanks Chris and Melissa! :) I really enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to learning more and going on more calls too! :)

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