Before city council gets too excited about the fire department’s imagined abuse of sick time, they might want to remember how physical fire fighting can be.
It is not sitting around on a chair, or riding around in a squad car. It is putting on a BA (breathing apparatus) and going into a smoke-filled building and pulling out an unconscious 200-pound victim. It is hard work. The temperatures in a burning building can exceed 540 C (remember that the next time your cooking a roast).
I for one do not want a firefighter half dead on their feet with a cold or the flu, or with a sprained wrist trying to save me or anyone else. I also don’t want an EMT hacking and coughing all over me with a cold while trying to give me CPR.
Are you getting the message? There is a definition of too sick for duty for a firefighter and there is a definition of sick for the rest of us. I want my rescuer well rested and in perfect health.
If you are wonder why I feel qualified to comment, I was a professional firefighter for 25 years and learned the job from training at CFB Borden and hands on experience not from watching TV or the movies (it was the hardest work I ever did and I was in my 20s at the time and grew up on a farm, so I was no stranger to hard work).
Fifteen minutes of hard work in a super-hot environment can seem like hours and you must be in perfect health to do it. Remember, fire fighters are the ones that put the blue in blue-collar job. They are more deserving of respect than ridicule, if they ever have to save your property, your life or the life of some one near to you you will never think poorly of them again.
Grant L. Hooke
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 14, 2013