I made my way through the maze with the help of Captain Keith Gautreau and several enthusiastic firefighters, not to mention full use of my senses of sight and hearing. Not so for the men from Engines 4 (Bramhall Station) and 5 (Central Station), Ladder 4 (Northgate Station), and Medcu 5 (Central Station). Their vision was obstructed by a piece of dark plastic stuck in their air mask, and their thoughts fought to be heard over a crazy CD soundtrack (played from a boom box) that included crashing, shouting, and sirens. I watched eight firefighters go through the maze and it was better than any reality show. Each one had different strengths; each one got caught up in different obstacles; my breath caught in my throat as I silently cheered them on. Not only did I not want to witness the embarrassment of their failure, but I also didn't want these men, who might ostensibly save me from a burning building, to fall from grace navigating a course I'd gone through just an hour earlier (albeit under much easier circumstances).

The primary objective of last week's training was to help firefighters identify emergency situations in which they need help. Too many injuries and deaths happen when a firefighter "either doesn't call Mayday or calls it too late," says Captain Phil McGouldrick, who hypothesized that part of that reticence comes from the somewhat "macho" stereotype of the job. (There are eight female firefighters in the PFD; none were present last Wednesday.)

But luckily, that doesn't happen here, nor is it likely to. "The last time we had a firefighter emergency? I couldn't even tell you," McGouldrick says. "That shows what we're doing is working."

< prev  1  |  2  | 
Related: Mr. Moose's summer safety tips, ‘There are no rules’, El Pelón Taquería, More more >
  Topics: This Just In , fire, firefighters, smoke,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE  |  July 24, 2014
    When three theater companies, all within a one-hour drive of Portland, choose to present the same Shakespeare play on overlapping dates, you have to wonder what about that particular show resonates with this particular moment.
  •   NUMBER CRUNCHERS  |  July 23, 2014
    Maybe instead of devoting still-more resources to food reviews, Maine’s leading news organizations should spend money on keeping better tabs on Augusta.
    Among last year’s 100 top-grossing films, women represented just 15 percent of protagonists, and less than one-third of total characters.
    Former Mainer Shanna McNair started The New Guard, an independent, multi-genre literary review, in order to exalt the writer, no matter if that writer was well-established or just starting out.
  •   NO TAR SANDS  |  July 10, 2014
    “People’s feelings are clear...they don’t want to be known as the tar sands capitol of the United States."

 See all articles by: DEIRDRE FULTON