On re-reading my post on identifying the wildland firefighter, I apparently didnâ€™t make it clear enough that Iâ€™m talking about _off duty_ FF … on my crews (I run with several, wildland, structure, and EMS), anybody caught with alcohol, at all, in company uniform, let alone actually on duty, never runs with us again. Period. No tolerance, no exceptions. And thatâ€™s the way it ought to be.
Your post reminded me of an incident in our latest 4th of July parade…I was marching with my handcrew, of which I am the only female member. We looked darn good, if I do say so myself…crew boss in front, two single file squads side-by side, assistant crew boss at the tail, with packs and tools. We got misidentified most of the time, as Hotshots, â€˜Firepackersâ€™ (not sure, donâ€™t wanna ask), a municipal brush disposal crew, and â€˜the Texas chainsaw massacreâ€™ (weâ€™re not from Texas), but it was still pretty cool. Then we get toward the end of the parade, and this woman off to one side of us just goes nuts. â€œOh my God, you guys are such hunks, you guys are such hunks…â€ then she sees me â€œAnd hunkette!â€. Sigh.
The hardest part was really watching these nice little old ladies walking up to our my tattooed, pierced, rowdy crewmates (my crew doesnâ€™t look quite as scary as TazGirlâ€™s, but theyâ€™d probably get along well) and thanking them â€˜For keeping our town safeâ€™…and knowing that if these same ladies caught these same fire fighters in their neighborhood out of uniform, theyâ€™d probably call the cops. Ce la vie, right?
Nope, that one wasnâ€™t in Colorado…northern NM. Maybe just one step removed though. Itâ€™s a great quote. I really appreciate a good dispatcher…it seems like 90 percent of the time ours donâ€™t get our unit IDs right, let lone know our locations and what weâ€™re doing. It feels pretty lonely out there sometimes.
I had one of those…(alcohol wise). Heâ€™d start drinking and the next morning weâ€™d be talking and it wouldnâ€™t even seem like weâ€™d been to the same party. Itâ€™s a hard, strange lifestyle…most of my crewmates fight fire during the summer, ski patrol or make snow in the winter, and party in between…and then I came along and suddenly these guys were faced with a female, their age, who was not somebodyâ€™s girlfriend but who also wasnâ€™t just some chick in a bar. I mean, I love my crewmates as brothers, but the culture shock aspect before they just concluded I was one of the guys was pretty darn funny. â€œJust so you know, youâ€™re not a girl.â€ Was my favorite…in his articulate way my crewmate was trying to get across that any comments made about the general bass-ackwardsness of the female species didnâ€™t apply to me. He honestly didnâ€™t understand why I wasnâ€™t flattered.
Nerd on the Fireline
Fig’gured you meant as much. Old hands know about zero tolerance but some wannabee’s who read your post might not.
The most painful situation I remember occurred one night some years ago when a group of excellent new EMTs (not firefighters) from out-of-region (Phoenix), who we desperately needed, accepted beer from a local who came to the campfire and caught them alone with no one to warn them. The Branch happened to be making rounds. Much as we needed those medical folks, he demobed them immediately. They were sorry to go. We were sorry to see them go. But rules exist for a reason and ignorance is no excuse. They came back some weeks later, much wiser.