Written & Published to raise funds for the UK’s FIRE FIGHTERS’ CHARITY.
Training School for Retained Firefighters three decades ago was nothing like it is today! Essentially, it consisted of seven-and-a-half days of turning up, bang on time, in a brand new dress uniform – on the basis that, if you were late for training, then you’d be late turning in for ‘shouts’ – wearing ‘proper’, old-school fire kit (cork helmet, dark tunic, yellow leggings and rubber boots), learning the names of the most basic equipment on the appliance, memorising instructions, repeatedly running out and making up hose, slipping and pitching 10.5 and 13.5 ladders, trying desperately to remember your number and role in a series of combination drills and, worst of all for me, learning to march properly in preparation for the all-important and prestigious Falling Out Parade. This was at the end of the week when the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) would be ‘walked in’ by our instructors to piped-in background music of marching band tunes while makeshift mini-flags and buntings had been hurriedly, and somewhat haphazardly, draped around the perimeter fencing of the drill yard. And it was made clear to us in no uncertain terms that the CFO had sacrificed his perfectly serviceable Saturday afternoon in order to watch us spray water into the ground floor, then switch – at the blowing of a whistle – to alter the hose flow upwards by one floor each time, more akin to some sort of waltzing waters’ display than any kind of realistic firefighting scenario. The grand finale of this cobbled-together, but fairly impressive, display, was the composite drill, which consisted of slipping and pitching a 13.5 ladder correctly while a firefighter – who happened to be me! – hurried up the rounds (rungs) of the ladder in order to rescue a ‘stricken casualty’ from the third floor of the drill tower. Therefore, as raw recruits, we knew that we had better get it right on the day, or else! (Full story available for 99p using PayPal)