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Friday, June 17, 2011

Chasing Fires

Since I've been pregnant, for obvious reasons, I haven't been able to pursue being the firefighter I used to be.  That's not even considering the fact that there isn't a department I can join in this town since the volunteer requirements are more than I can meet.  I sorely miss putting on gear and busting my hump along side the guys so instead I've taken one of my other talents and tailored it to the fire scene. 

Of course I am talking about my photography.
If you've been around here for a while its no secret that I've been taking photos of fire scenes I go to since, well, the blog began.  I'd fight the fire and then sneak a moment to try and capture it with my camera.  Now I get to traipse across the scene, sneak over the piles of hoses, and dash through neighbor's yards to try and catch the most action I can with my camera while not completely being part of the action.

Okay, so its not exactly the same thing...  but at least I still smell slightly of smoke when I come home.

If you're married to a firefighter, a firefighter yourself, or just weird like me then you know what I am talking about when I insist that nothing smells better than the sooty after smell from a long afternoon spent fighting a structure fire.  Wood, smoke, and sweat all rolled into one.  Delicious. Trust me, especially when that smell is on your significant other.  But, this post isn't about the awesome sooty smells that accompany structure fires so back to what I was talking about.  Photographing them...


Of course in the middle of my jammed packed study session of a week I had my portable radio on listening to all the surrounding agencies respond to various emergencies.  Its a habit, the radio is always on in our house.  Ambulance calls galore were dispatched.  Nothing too exciting was happening and then suddenly, whilst in the middle of mopping up black ink from a pen the dogs chewed on my cream colored carpet,  I heard the wonderful words that sent me running for my camera.  "Structure Fire".  

In the blink of an eye I was out the door, studying left behind, and en route to the scene of the fire.  High ranking officers from several departments in the area have asked that I come and photograph their fires if I am available so I take that responsibility serious.  So, when I arrived on the fire scene, that was clogged with cops who's mission were to keep people out, I had to persuade them to let me pass through their car-blocked barricades to reach the scene. 

It's kind of hard to look official, though, when you are wearing a tank top, jeans, and flip flops at a fire scene.  Nothing on me said "I am with the fire department" in any way, not considering my almost seven month pregnant protruding belly.  I got more than my fair share of stares and confrontations about how unsafe a fire scene is and no place for a pregnant woman from the police and people who didn't know me until an officer from one of the departments informed the police that I was allowed to be there. 

Finally I was free to snap some photos...





While none of these photos may seem important to the average person to those as the scene its documentation of their hard word, their efforts, and, most importantly, of the need to community has for these firefighters.  Its a testament declaring that "their work matters."  

After a few minutes perusing the scene and saying hello to the firefighters I knew an officer came up to me again.  He began lecturing me about the dangers of a fire scene.  Just before I was about to open my mouth and declare that I knew the dangers of the fire scene and had a right to be there he pointed out my shoes.  Flip flops.  And what I was standing in.  Water.  Then he pointed above my head.  Live wires on a power pole.  (while safely connected, lord knows what could happen on a fire scene causing them to come down)

I'm an idiot.  

I nodded, smiled at my stupidity, and walked away sheepishly, happy with the photos I had already captured.

Lesson learned;
Next time I will toss my sturdy EMS boots in my car to throw on in situations like this. 

4 comments:

Erin said...

I started reading your blog after I read one of your comments at Marriage Confessions. Since I live in VT, your title caught my eye. You were still living in the NE Kingdom at the time and when you moved to the Upper Valley I was surprised because that is where I live! Anyway, haven't commented before but I gasped when I saw the pictures in this post. This house used to be owned by friends of mine (prior to the current owner). It was hard to see this happen. Beautiful photos though and thanks to the firefighters for their hard work that day!

Jen at Cabin Fever said...

Wow, small world, huh? I always feel horrible for the families of fires... such an unimaginable loss. Glad you decided to comment finally :)

Theres just life said...

Great pictures. I knew a lot of volunteer firefighters. They are true heroes, and they can't resist a structure fire. Even when they were off duty, they would show up for one.

Better just keep your EMS shoes in the car or your camera bag, that way you wont have to remember them next time.

Pamela Jo

Joslinda said...

I love your blog. The fact that you are chasing your dreams, and living out your passion while being pregnant. There is nothing like doing the things we love, while carrying the ones we live for. The photos of this fire are intense, heart wrenching, and inspiring.. all in the same breath. The actions and hard work of the firefighter often go unnoticed, excellent job capturing it. My heart and thoughts are with the family of this home. I feel for them and their loss. Keep the pictures coming. Oh, and I was right there with you.. I was thinking "who is this police officer, telling her ~ a firefighter ~ what safety is." Then I realized. Agree, keep your EMS shoes in your car, wise decision.

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