I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to share about #flamefest14 on the blog. Where to begin. In what order. It’s clearly going to take a few posts. And of course, I don’t want to just say “Oh my goodness this was such a great event. You HAD to be there.” I mean, we’d love it if you were all there and really wish you could have been but realize that’s impractical. So I want to share the experience, of course get you fired up to go next year but also leave you with important tid bits you can learn from right away as you read this. So let’s get started…..
Flame Fest 2014 was only our second year for this event and we added some new activities for the attendees. One was “Touch-a-truck” Fire Wife Style, sponsored by TECGEN. The idea is that we take our kdis to these “touch-a-truck” events but how often do us wives get to try out what our husbands do on the job? If you are like me, I learn so much from doing things hands on. Things that can’t be experienced via reading or listening or even watching a video. Feeling and experiencing the gear, a charged line, the tools, what it’s like to breath air. What it feels like to have to move and act quickly with 50 pounds of equipment.
All of that was amazing. It was a blast to not have to monitor the little kiddos running around and just enjoy some adult play time (not *that* kind although the weekend certainly included time for that!) In this case, our husbands so proudly helped us get dressed in the gear, buttoning everything up, sharing with us how and why they wear each piece. And then, assembling the air tank and letting us all breathe air while we picked up an “inch and three quarters high rise pack” (see? I was really listening!) and our favorite hand tool, walk about 50 yards over to a hydrant that was luckily already connected a charged. And then open the nozzle and knock down 3 cones. Then pick everything up and walk back to “rehab”.
Walk back hot and sweaty I might add and step out of all that turn out gear. Yeah, us wives were swapping hot and sweaty gear and I don’t think I heard a single complaint or “Oh my this must be germy!” because it was way too fun to worry about that. By then our husbands, who had been dancing around us with videos and cameras were just beaming. And then, holy cow, they got to watch our sweaty, messy haired selves step out of that gear with the biggest smiles on our faces. I lost track of how many proud husbands were bragging up their wives on social media.
The crowd cheered each time one of the ladies conquered her fears and stepped up. I was so impressed that only a couple chose to not participate, mostly due to injuries or not liking things on their face.
Speaking of, this was my personal biggest take away from this experience. As I was getting dressed I was pretty amped. I’m always up for a challenge and my adrenalin gets pumping. (Remember my aerial platform ride at FDIC?) But I usually like to be more aware, informed and educated on what’s happening. i.e. IN CONTROL. As my husband and my dear friend Heather’s husband were suiting me up, I trusted them completely. But…. my facemask was compeltely fogged and it was HOT in there. For like more than a minute. Surely this isn’t how these things work> I honestly did start to panic. I reached for the strap that suddenly felt like it was choking me and realized I had no idea how to get this stuff off! Crap! I’m the chief Fire Wife. I can’t flake out on this. Finally, some wise person pointed out that I probably wasn’t getting air, they reset the air tank connector and a big breeze of cool air came flooding in and the mask instantly cleared up. YES! This is how it’s supposd to be. Thank The Lord. I can do THIS.
***warning…. if you are a worry wart fire wife, don’t read this part****
Having that part of the experience set my thinker to thinking. How critically important it is to know your gear. Every little nuance of where the gauges and connectors and valves are. How far to reach around your back to turn things on / off, even with gloved hands. How easy it could be for something to come undone and heaven forbid what that might feel like if it happened inside a fire. it brought to me an instant understanding like I never had before of the training, the equipment checks, the routines, the practice that goes into having consistent response of the gear and the firefighter in emergency situations. I mean, we all know that right, but having felt it brought it to an entirely new level of appreciation.
So once I got to breathing the tank air I thoroughly enjoyed completing the exercise and of course posing for the photo opps 🙂 This is me trying to get a handle on that aim. Good thing I’m not a…..oh never mind 🙂
About 50 ladies swapped sweaty gear all afternoon to give it a try. And we compared it to the lighter weight TECGEN gear suitable for rescues, extrictations, etc. Brilliant idea Next year, we take this to the next level and will add extrication to the experience. Yep. Operating heavy tools to cut up cars. Grrrrrrrrlllll power.
Huge thank yous to TECGEN for sponsoring this event and to Oak Brook Fire Department for stepping up and supporting us with trucks, lines, etc. And thanks to everyone for their flexibility as we had to move to Plan B’s due to weather challenges that day.
So many photos that make me smile ear to ear remembering the fun we had this day. And an awesome video made by one of our very own firefighter husbands, Shawn Sebo. Thanks Shawn!
Stay tuned for more great Flame Fest 2014 stories. Like the ones where we restore hope in some marriages. Uh huh. True stories. I hope they leap right off the screen and into your heart as well. (And yes, we will be announcing our 2015 event as soon as we can!!)
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