Blues and Twos and SKUs

Post Indian odyssey things accelerated pretty quickly. I’d had a good few months of doing my own thing, which was delightful. I’d travelled and hiked and wildcamped. I’d watched sunrises over new places and sunsets over old haunts and it was great.

It was time for new things. So I’d signed up as a retained firefighter.

To be honest, I’d been in for interviews, preliminary aptitude and fitness tests before we went away on our travels and had been accepted in for training, which was due to start the very day after we got back.

The first day was all very straightforward. We turned up at the shiney headquarters offices and went through a succession of presentations, got our kit and were thanked and encouraged by various members of the upper echelons. It suited me (and my lingering, post Dubai, food poisoning) very nicely thank you very much.

The next day, not so much.

We started off at training school and within a few hours were running about in full fire kit. Clearly this clothing is designed to protect the wearer from high temperatures when in close quarters of fire, and as a result similarly keeps any heat you may generate yourself inside the suit. Which is particularly helpful in August. I have done some pretty exhausting things over the last few years but this beat them all. People were dropping like flies and when they finally told us to stop I think I had maybe another 10 steps left in me before I would have fallen too. It was grim.

And so the scene was set. Over the next few months the training got more intense physically, mentally and technically. I learnt everything from the basics of getting water from point A to point B, to the science of fire behaviour, to extricating a casualty from a wrecked car and giving them initial medical care, to going into a burning building with breathing apparatus and zero visibility. I was scampering up 12 metre ladders and then wandering across roofs. I have sat inside a shipping container with a stack of pallets burning in the corner, temperature above 500⁰C, watching flames lick through the gas layer above my head like the northern lights. I have been so exhausted and dehydrated and disorientated that I couldn’t tell the difference between two of my crew mates, one of whom is 6’2″ and built like a tank, the other 5’8″ and built like a whippet.

The training has been incredible.

I’ve been on the run at my local station for a few months now, getting called out to everything from full-on building fires to replacing pensioner’s smoke alarms and calming them down (usually at around 2am) and it’s been ace.

Also, I got a call from a recruiter and am working 9 to 5* in an office again as a purchasing manager. It has its moments, but they usually revolve around somebody getting the hump because someone else spoke to them funny. It pays the bills.

So, as a consequence of all this activity, I now have the wherewithal to travel, but not the time. What employment giveth, employment taketh away. Despite the very constrained time availability however, I will be heading off to Japan and China in a few weeks with Mrs A, which I am looking forward to immeasurably. There’s a couple of business trips on the cards too (not quite the same as travelling for fun, but travelling nonetheless).

And will I update the blog? Well yes, of course I will!

So what have you been up to?

NDC

* – 9 to 5 appears to mean 8 to 5.30. How did this happen? Besides the impingement on my time it means that Dolly Parton’s song won’t work anymore.

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