It looked like a typical, slow monday Norfolk, Nebraska morning. I’d finished my workout. Had a quick snack at home. Headed out again to pick up the mail at the Post Office. In my head, I wondered what to post on today’s bluejayblog. There were some wood-ducks perched in the trees, but my camera frightened them away. I thought about beavers gnawing some of the trees and taking them away. I’d rather catch them in the act. I decided to put those topics on hold.
I was near the Norfolk Avenue and 4th Street intersection, getting ready to drive north to my destination when I saw the traffic cones blocking my way.
Then I saw it! It looked like a big news story. My inner journalist wanted to investigate.
A Norfolk Fire Department fire truck. Not just a pumper truck, but a ladder truck! I decided to put the Post Office errand on hold. I had found a topic for today’s blog. Woo Hoo! I parked the ol’ Camry half a block away and grabbed my trusty ol’ camera.
The whole street was blocked off. There was no smoke coming from the residential hotel. The firemen were not scrambling around. It looked like a drill in progress. I had a quick visit with one of the fire fighters and received permission to photograph the scene and publish some photos online. He was happy to oblige.
I was told that the Norfolk Fire Division conducts similar training drills four times per year in various locations around town. I had been aware of many of them but couldn’t remember when the downtown area had hosted one of them. I’d have to say that today could almost be called a firemen’s holiday. Most of the crew was rather relaxed and smiling.
I figure that every one of the firefighters is employed doing exactly what they dreamed of doing since they were first grade pupils. What little boy, or maybe some little girl, hasn’t dreamed about growing up to join the fire department? I mean, the heavy duty gear and the trucks alone are enough to make a kid feel dreamy with fantasies of great rescues from blazing buildings.
I do know the reality of the job is much less glamorous and far more gritty than kids realize. A couple of my fellow gym rats work for the fire department. They’ve explained about all the extensive physical training they undergo. The fire fighters are required to complete a run an obstacle course within a certain time limit. This test is performed while they’re dressed in full gear, dragging a firehose, often in the middle of a summer heatwave. This must be done periodically in order to remain certified as a professional firefighter.
There is rigorous training with actual blazes at a special training site northeast of Norfolk. But that was not on the docket for today. This was the time to make certain that all the crew members know how to do their jobs if a ladder truck or snorkle truck was required during rescue operations.
We hope that we’ll never, ever need the services of the fire department. But it’s a real comfort to know that these public employees meet and exceed the most grueling training standards imaginable. They will be ready and able to perform their heroic deeds when necessary. These employees are ready to put it all on the line in the service of the general public.
To see them in action makes the onlooker feel mighty humble.
The Blue Jay of Happiness knows that the fire department employees more than earn their pay!