A volunteer fire department is a fire station where the people don’t get paid. The one we visited takes care of 94 square miles.
An average fireman/woman gets paid 40 or 50 thousand dollars a year. It is very kind that the volunteers do the same thing, but for no money. The department has a summer fest to raise money. All of the activities are physical. The activities are meant to improve your skills on things.
Some people have been at the department for 27 years. They go through a 14-week training session. The first thing you learn about is how to keep yourself safe, and how to work with other people. Every time they get a call they see something different. There are no secrets between firefighters. They share almost everything.
About 30 volunteers work at the Black Earth Fire Department. One of the volunteers if Paul Fassage, the chief of the fire department. The department was started over 100 years ago.
In this fire station, there were 35 men and only two women! Wow, what a big difference. The firefighters said that as time goes on probably the number of women will change.
The firefighters showed us the vehicles they used. There was the command vehicle (obviously used for giving commands) and the tanker (carries 3500 gallons of water), which has a fold-a-tank that goes on top of the tanker and also carries 3,500 gallons of water. There is a heavy rescue truck, which carries air, masks, the Jaws of Life, and ten firefighters. They have another tanker that only carries 1,500 gallons of water but also has four-wheel drive. They have a main engine with water pumper, ladders, and the hose.
One of the funnest things I did was go to the fire station. We got to ride in a fire truck. I waved at people. We got to go around the block and by the ShoeBox. After we came back we had to go to the Jaws of Life. The Jaws of Life is like a big scissors, so you can cut down doors or cut wires or just cut something big. The Jaws of Life weighed like 25 pounds, so it was pretty hard to pick up and cut things.
I really liked when Mike told us the fire stories. Some of his stories were scary, like the one where one man was driving home in his car and it was pretty foggy. And then he accidentally killed himself by crashing into a horse, and he also killed the horse, because when he crashed into the horse, the horse’s head went flying through the air.
There were a lot of calls for the firefighters, and a lot of them were sad, but a lot of them were happy, and some of them were really funny.
One day Mike and his fellow workers received a call that an apartment building was on fire! The firefighters, of course, responded, and they went there in a hurry. But when they got there it turned out that the chimney made the smoke, and there was nothing that was so scary!
Mike’s first story was about a fire in a trailer. When they got there, a neighbor hold them a lady was still in there, so they went in. They looked through the whole trailer. They had to search everywhere. When they looked in the last room, they fell through the floor. At this time there was lots of fire, and they had looked through the whole house. So they assumed no one was in there. They got out of the hole and left. Two hours later, Mike and his brother went in. While they were looking through all the ashes, they found a skull, lungs, and a stomach.
My favorite part of the fire station was when we got to put on the firefighters’ clothes. They were heavy, especially the helmets.
The clothes they have to wear weigh 60 pounds, and that’s not counting the oxygen tank.
When I put on the firefighter outfit and fell down in them I was amazed that I couldn’t get back up!