My son is a volunteer at a local fire department. When you live in rural areas, often your fire and rescue squads are composed mostly of volunteers. The chief may be a paid position, but everyone else is a local. My son is considered a junior, and as such has to wear an orange helmet.. earning him the designation pumpkinhead. He won’t be able to seriously firefight until he is 18, in terms of entering a burning structure. But he is still being trained and the past 2 weekends he spent working on his initial training. All day, hard work, in class and out.

Pumpkinheads from all over our area and from many different fire departments participated. This is my son, from Orange Grove.

This weekend the focus was on handling powerful hoses, and then finally, entering a burning building.

There is a lot of equipment to be skilled on, and it is crucial to get it right. Lives are at stake.. either their own, or their crew mates.

Entering a burning building is hot work. Breathing apparatus are heavy. You only go in as a team.

And at the end of the day, when you are hot and tired and sweaty and stinky.. you get to clean the truck and hoses and roll them and clean the masks and get the air tanks ready.. the next fire could happen at any time.

So, my eldest passed all the tests and completed the 2 weekend course. He is now able to do more when he attends fire calls, and has a taste of what it takes to be the sort of man that the world regards as a hero. In this day and age, I think all young men need to know that hard work – ugly, grunting, hard work, intense heat and smoke and firefilled work is just the start of what it takes…


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