Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Beginning of the Journey; First Steps on the Road to Joining the Fire Service

For those of you who don't know me, actually, even for those who do, my blog area will articulate my latest and hopefully greatest adventure.....finally volunteering for the fire service.

I currently serve as the state-wide Training and Education coordinator for the Firemen's Association of the State of New York...better known as FASNY (not FANCY, as it's sometimes referred to). My job entails working with the T & E committee to offer educational programming to the Fire and Emergency Services. Our constituency is volunteer, but the attendees at our seminars are vollies, paid, local and state police and educators. For the most part, I like what I do. Yes, there are some headaches involved...any time a committee is running the show there are inherent challenges. An attorney friend of mine had a semi-famous quote framed in his office "A committee is a cul-de-sac down which great ideas are lured and then quietly strangled" (Sir Barnett Cocks --yes, that's his real name, unfortunate, isn't it...imagine being married to that guy). I think that sums it up nicely.

My favorite part of my job is being out on the road with the training programs, meeting our members, participating in lively discourse about all matters safety related, and, let's face it...getting out of the cubicle for a couple of days. I'm not a 9-5 kind of girl.

So that said, I've spent three years chatting with Fire and Emergency workers, and inevitably the conversation will turn to me..."So, Mary Ellen, what department do you volunteer with?" --cue the discomfort---"Well, actually, I'm not a firefighter; I haven't signed up to volunteer yet"---cue the blank stares and open mouths--"Well what the hell are you waiting for?" which is usually followed by..."You know, life isn't a dress rehearsal".

After three years I'd had enough of feeling like a sham. I'm a strong girl, I run, I lift weights, I eat right and am focused on fitness and safety. I have no good reason not to walk the walk. I'm marginally limited for the short-term as a result of some reasonably major surgery I had about five weeks ago--I'm not supposed to lift anything heavier than 15 pounds for another five weeks. THAT was ever going to my job for one day and try and avoid hauling boxes of materials around the office. But by the time I'm cleared for all physical activity, that should dovetail with taking FF 1.

So now, I'm putting my money where my mouth is, and have a meeting tomorrow night with the chief at my local department to officially get the ball rolling. If all goes well, I may have my interview on January 7 (and being the type A+ anal-retentive perfectionist that I am, of course I'm already nervous) and then the saga will begin.
Stay tuned...this might get interesting...

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