Don’t believe anything you read and only half of what you see.! I have been told this for years by my mentors and parents. I can tell you that the Rural fire service is alive and well in North Carolina. Yes volunteer numbers are down. Yes call volumes are swamping many departments. Yes we are requiring way too many hours to Certify and Qualify our first responders. There is still a palpable passion to our JOB! Witnessed by the intense interest in my last structural burn.
Training is frequent and intense. Our training process is better than ever. We have available every screw up on video to view. We have instant on the scene critics. We have the social media roaring the proper thing to do… I think we can perform properly and respond perfectly to all situations if we were not humans. That human factor has millions of variables.
The Mission is simple. Save lives, Protect property. We are here for them! We must however protect ourselves to properly continue the service. I am the Safest I have ever been in 44 years of service. I am at a High level of Situational awareness. I drive slower, work out more and eat better than I ever did in the first 30 years. I have preached from the training pulpit the ways to stay alive till age 25 and beyond.
I have kept fire in my life. Carrying my turnout gear with me for 40 years to be ready at a moments notice. As soon as I became an EMT I have carried a jump bag too. I have taught the Structural Burn for the last 30 years. Taking crews and finding the best of the best and bringing those FF to additional burns to develop their skills. We burned with 10 Instructors and helpers keeping 35 -40 in crews of 4 n 5 busy all night.
The Command Staff, Water Supply and Instructor support worked tirelessly during the burn. The Whole incident had been pre-set. Lines, Tool Staging, Sets in all rooms all were ready to keep crews busy. Instructors rotated with the air supply and crews rotated as they got Fire. FF were rehabbed and fed as Crews and the burning continued. No Complaints from over 100 FF. Firefighting is alive and well in Rural NC.