The high pitched tones of my pager breaks the morning silence. I know the tone pitch, a fire in a neighboring community. Still, my body begins to move into a higher state of alertness. I continue to work, waiting to see if the tones calling us, Kimball Volunteer fire, will go off. Sure enough they do.
"Attention Kimball Fire Crew, Attention Kimball Fire Crew, mutual aid needed in Dix for a grass fire on the railroad tracks, mutual aid needed in Dix for a grass fire along the railroad tracks, Kimball clear."
Here we go, I think as I grab my keys and jacket and head for the door.
The trip to the fire hall takes me less than two minutes. I run inside, grab my pants, and pull them on, followed by my coat. Other fire men are coming through the door, reaching for their gear. As I pull on my NOMEX and strap my helmet to my head I notice I am the first one ready.
"Who is on five?" I ask. I have not been cleared to drive a truck and wait till a more senior firemen is ready to go.
"Patrick, get in there and drive out," said the Chief.
"Yes sir," I say as I head to the driver-side door.
Having only been on the department for nine months, I am nervous. The chief bestowed upon me the responsibility of getting the truck, and more importantly other firemen safely to a fire.Another firemen jumps in the other side.
"Let's go," he says as he pulls his door shut.
I start up the truck, pull it out of the barn, and head out.
Our lights and sirens wail a warning to anyone in our way. The truck is sluggish, slow to respond to my touch. I am concerned that something isn't right and think weight have to return to the Fire Hall. But quickly I realize that the diesel engine just needs to warm up and concern evaporates from my body.
We speed down Highway 30 towards Dix. The firemen sitting next to me, Russ, tells me the protocol for heading to a fire.
"First time driving a truck?" he asks,
"Yeah, it sure is," I say, my knuckles turning white from the grip I have on the wheel.
"Ok, relax a little," Russ says. "Just remember, you are allowed to go five miles over the speed limit and no faster. Take it easy and get us there safely."
I shake my head and try my best to relax.
As we approach Dix a call comes over the radio, it's the Chief, he is announcing a 10-22, return to barn. I ease off the accelerator, switch off the lights and sirens, and prepare to turn around.
"Well, that was quick," says Russ disappointment at not seeing any action evident in his voice.
"Sure was," I say, also disappointed.
As I turn the truck around and head back to the barn, a smile stretches across my face. I am driving a fire truck. I am sure other fire men would laugh at me, but frankly I don't care. There is something about fulfilling a childhood dream that fills me with joy. It puts me on a high that I end up riding all day.
We return to the barn, back the truck into its spot and put away our gear. I sign off on the roster sheet and tell everyone good-bye.
The rest of the days seems trivial. It's hard to let go of the exhilaration of a fire call, even if no fire was fought. Still, I have a job to do, so I try to settle down to get it done.
My hand reaches down to my pager and checks the knob. Got to make sure it's turned up after all.