Posted by on Oct 13, 2010 in Blog, Personal Stories | 6 comments

Probably the most fun class activity one could embark on during training: fire fighting!

All of the photos below were taken by my pal Brenda, just so you know. And no, despite the striking resemblance that isn’t me in the fireball below. I wish it was, epic photo.

Jay Swanson fighting fire

All suited up and ready to roll, we learned and practiced basic fire fighting techniques from extinguishers to hose work. I ended up doing every exercise twice except for one because we had an odd number of participants. Pete, our instructor (and the chief steward on the ship), called me a glutton for pain. I just wanted to shoot stuff at fires.

Donovan Palmer and Jay Swanson

My grandpa was a volunteer fire chief for nearly 30 years, I think I’d make him proud. Donovan Palmer, the Managing Director of the Africa Mercy, also joined us for Basic Safety Training this week which has led to more cameras being stuck in our faces than usual. He’s a great sport though.

Jay entering the fire chamber

The question is whether or not to volunteer for a fire crew on the ship. I think it would be great training and experience, definitely sacrificing comfort for that job though. Either way it was a ton of fun and I learned a lot. I’d love to drill more if nothing else.

Frances Douds and Jay Swanson fighting fire

We put out diesel, propane, and simulated electrical fires. Even one contained wood fire where the temperature within the container reached 600 degrees. We dragged a huge dummy named Buck to safety, and were timed on how quickly we could don our equipment. All in all after the field tests and written exam it made for a great, accomplished day.

Frances’ tip of the day: team up with someone bigger and stronger than you in case you have to drag a 170lb dummy out of a burning building.