Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Party lights

Starting at about 7:45 yesterday evening, I was occupied with the task of keeping our dogs calm. I fed them pieces of kibble, told them "Good Quiet," and basically tried to reassure them that, contrary to their belief, the world was not ending. Why were they so frantic? Because the town's entire volunteer fire department was on our lawn, pulling hoses, shouting, and whistling.

No, our house was not on fire (knock on wood). We were hosting a firefighting drill. The s.o. and I knew about it ahead of time, but it was a surprise for all the other firefighters--and definitely for the townsfolk.

The pump truck, with its lights flashing, parked in the southbound lane of the highway we live on. The other fire truck stationed itself across the street, lighting our neighbor's yard up like a Christmas tree. The sheriff's car and a few other department vehicles parked nearby. Several members of the force directed traffic back and forth through the one open lane of the highway. (My favorite part: Hearing our firefighting female neighbor-across-the-street bawling "SLOW DOWN!" at an overeager driver. We need someone out there 24/7 to do that!)

The firefighters unrolled hoses all over the yard, somehow hooked everything up to the fire hydrant and the pump truck (I have no idea how it all works), and started watering our lawn, er, putting out the imaginary fire. I had just gotten the dogs calmed down when they started baying like a pack of crazed wolves; a quick peek out the front door revealed that several of the firefighters had mounted the front porch and were aiming a hose directly at the door, spraying (luckily) imaginary water up our central staircase. I smiled and waved.

Every window I looked out revealed another pair or trio of firemen wielding a hose. I don't know how many hoses the truck has, but I can tell you it took twice as long to roll them all up and put them away properly as it did for them to fight the "fire." There are a lot of detail-oriented maintenance routines in firefighting--things like stowing suits and hoses that absolutely must be done properly or the items won't be easy to access the next time they are needed.

I had hoped to watch all our firefighting friends in action, but unsurprisingly, everyone looks pretty much exactly alike in a full fire suit. I had to try to guess people's identities by their voices. Even the s.o. was difficult to pick out.

Have I mentioned lately that I am really proud of the s.o. for being on the fire department? I am. And now I have the extra comfort of knowing that if, heaven forbid, anything should ever happen, the fire department knows exactly how to fight a fire on our property.

If they ever do a drill here again, though, the s.o. has suggested to the fire chief that the "fire" be in our garden. It's a shame for all that water to go to waste!