Friday, April 2, 2010

Rob the Firefighter

Well the impossible has happened. Little Robbie James is officially a trained Wildland Firefighter. I know I know, pretty hard to believe and if someone had told me this would happen a year ago I wouldn’t have believed it. But after a week of really boring classes where I sat and watched videos depicting every worse possible situation of a fire and after passing the pack test where you have to walk 3 miles in under 45 minutes while carrying a forty pound pack. Not to brag but I did it in 43 minutes (please save your applause for later). It been pretty awesome and I could totally dig having a job where all I do is walk around with a drip torch lighting things on fire all day. My inner pyro has definitely been unleashed. Oh and by the way, my team is already talking about releasing a calendar because isn’t that what all the real firefighters do? I’m already claiming November and I’m envisioning lots of flames, sweat, mesh tank top, and Dalmatian puppies all over me. Its gonna real classy.

The other day we were doing a prescribed burn on about 100 acres of prairie and my teammate Stephon and I got quite the rush of adrenaline from this whole fire thing. We had just lit a huge fire line across a field when our crew boss drove up and was signaling at us to get in the ranger to move farther down the line. I of course being the sensible of the two told Stephon that we should walk down further where the fire hadn’t touched in order to get to the ranger. He of course was like well let’s just jump over it. Seeing as my nickname on the team has become old man Sesser I wasn’t about to let this young whipper snapper show me up so we both started running towards the fire line and once our feet left the ground to jump over it I swear the flames grew twice in size which pushed a rush of adrenaline through my body like I’ve never experienced. Within seconds my body was drenched in sweat from the heat. In the moment I seriously felt like I was in the Gladiator movie when Russell Crowe is fighting in the battle and he yells “UNLEASH HELL!” Then out the dark smoke and flames you see this huge wolf fly out of it and attack. Basically that’s how it probably would have looked if you had been standing there…minus the wolf…and insert me and Stephon with a touch of slow motion for dramatic effect. All I’m sayin is that it was pretty “bad a”. And my asthma didn’t flare up due to all the smoke inhalation, which was also a big plus.

Now speaking of me, Stephon, wild dogs, adrenaline rush, feeling like your life is a movie, etc….Last weekend we thought it would be a great thing to go spend some time volunteering at the local Humane Society and it was all going just peachy until Stephon decided two put the 3 yr. old St. Bernard in the play area. I don’t really know how but Stephon was playing with the dog in the pen but “Jesse” was apparently feeling a little claustrophobic. So out of nowhere the dog bolts for the gate where he jumps up and body slams it thus opening the gate. Everything after that seriously could have been the new script for the seventh sequel to Beethoven. So the dog just takes off and I was standing close by with my dog who was some sort of large terrier who coincidentally has a knack for squeezing it head out of a collar and running after large St. Bernards. So then we had two dogs on the loose and I’m running like crazy seeing as we’re right next to a busy road and I’m screaming “JESSE! JESSE! STOP! BAD DOG! BAD DOG!” I was so flustered I couldn’t even remember the other dogs name so I had to refer to him as HEY YOU! STOP! Those dogs really could have cared less as Stephon and I chased them for probably a good quarter mile before they finally stopped. And seeing as I probably ran the fastest quarter mile of my life while wearing a parka I was about two steps away from a collapsed lung. So I go up to Jesse and grab him by the collar and surprisingly he’s really happy to see me and figures I would love a good lick. So he gives me those innocent puppy dog eyes and proceeds to lick the entire length of my arm and covers it all in nasty white foamy drool that had all been built up from the run. And go figure my parka was dry clean only. And you have no idea how hard it is to find a good dry clean in rural Iowa.


  1. Is Wild land Firefighter a job description? Do you get a certificate or can that get you a job? How much do those jobs pay and it it dangerous?

    If this is job training for a good job you should let more people know so they can sign up.

  2. please let me know when and where i can purchase a calendar.

    now i'm off to find a copy of 'beethoven,' as your story has suddenly made me want to watch all of those movies.