Have you ever wondered what a typical day is like in the life of a firefighter in the Blanco Volunteer Fire Department? Today’s article will describe that ‘typical day’ – though many days are far from typical.
A normal day begins at 8 o’clock in the morning. But, your firefighters generally arrive at the station about 7:30 to begin reviewing the Master Log to learn what’s happened on the previous shift, what calls were made, i.e., responses to emergency situations, how they were handled, problems encountered, lessons learned, etc. After clock-in at 8 o’clock, the daily routine of inspecting the vehicle fleet begins. Each vehicle has a checklist detailing what is inspected on a daily, or periodic, basis. Items such as tire pressure, all fluids, lights, sirens, and their operability are checked. Some vehicles are checked in more detail than others, the fire trucks, for example. Also, specific critical equipment is checked such as the Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) to insure it is fully functional, air cylinders are filled to the proper amounts and pressure, etc.
After the daily inspections are complete and recorded, the ‘routine’ work begins. Has anyone ever seen a fire truck that was dirty? Doubtful. Why? Because firefighters take pride in their vehicles and wash, clean or polish them daily – part of their ‘routine’ daily duties. Other daily duties consist of cleaning the station, inside and out, and keeping it up to the standards expected by our citizens.
After lunch, our firefighters begin their training regimen. As you may imagine, a firefighter must know and be trained on multiple aspects of his or her job. For example, he or she must know elements of building construction, i.e., wood, cement, etc., and the source of fires, i.e., electrical, oil, hazardous materials, etc. to determine how best to successfully attack the fire. They must train and learn search and rescue techniques along with the required equipment. They must know the many types of fires, like structural and wildland, in order to best fight them. They must learn extraction techniques from both structures and vehicles, have basic medical knowledge, have complete knowledge of how their equipment operates, have basic knowledge of water pressure and hose lengths, and even how to fold a hose in order to most efficiently remove it from the truck when needed. In summary, a firefighter is constantly learning and training – all for one purpose: to prevent and protect their community and its citizens from the ravages of fire.
After training, and for the remaining portion of a ‘typical’ day, your Blanco firefighters satisfy administrative duties, such as recording their training, completing reports, and scheduling other duties. What has NOT been addressed above is, hopefully, NOT part of a typical day. That is: responding to an emergency situation, either a fire or a vehicle accident. This year, your firefighters have responded to an average of 19 calls per month. Most of these occur between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., with an average response time of approximately 9 minutes. Our firefighters record all calls and responses in order to track activity, debrief each other on the event, and even submit claims for reimbursement when appropriate.
In summary, as you may imagine, there really is no ‘typical’ day for a fire fighter. They must know the types of fires and how to successfully attack them. They must know and maintain their equipment, which, as has been reported in a previous article, is valued over $1.5 million. They must constantly train to be ready for any emergency. And last, they must be ready to respond to a multitude of calls from basic assistance to citizens, to accidents, to fires, either minor or major. All of this is for one purpose: to protect our community and its citizens.
If you’d like to learn more about becoming a volunteer firefighter, or how to help your BVFD, drop by the station and chat with the firefighters there, or call Fire Chief Ron Sallman, at 833-5009.
(A special Thanks to Firefighter S.McElhaney for inputs to this article.)