I work for State Parks – most rangers are required to become part of a burn team, or to be qualified to burn. I am not a ranger – therefore, I’m not required to do this….I’m more of a paper pusher ;-)
My Manager suggested that maybe I should do the burn training, and start burning. State Parks do prescribed burns, and help out when there is massive wild fires……
Well, I finally bit the bullet and decided to do it, or rather I said I would. First thing you have to do before any training is pass a pack test – this is a 2 mile walk (no running at all) with a 25 lb pack on your back, this must be completed in 30 minutes – easy right…just remember NO running.
They had a pack test yesterday – guess when I found out I would be doing the pack test? Yea the day before. No sweat – ha. I lift weights…I work out oh, 4/5 days a week – NO sweat. This was my thoughts anyway.
We had to be there at 9:30 – we had 2 groups of 3, I was the only girl, and was in the 2nd group. First group start – a guy dropped out on the first lap (we lap the park). I was a little shocked, and was beginning to get a little nervous. My sinus’ have been giving me a fit, and I knew my breathing was going to be off. GRRR. The other 2 guys made it. Now, my turn – I had my ipod, I was ready to roll, I suited up in the 25lb vest – WHOA, that felt heavy. Was thinking how in the world did I ever carry that around plus 20 more? YIKES, eye opener.
Go time, my first few steps I knew I was going to be in for it…why did I do this again? I felt like I was walking through sludge – the other 2 guys left me. I knew at this point I was going to have problems – I made my first lap…we need to complete each lap in about 7 minutes, first lap….7.14 yikes. My 2nd lap….14+, I needed to step it up. I saw the guys ahead of me – I was catching one…the other had left him, I was thinking if only I could catch and pass him I would make it! I caught him just past the curve, then passed him – whoooo! I glanced back as I was rounding a corner….he wasn’t there – he dropped out! I was on my last lap, the instructor met me a ways down – told me I had 45 seconds….You can do it, hustle – I sped walked and left him….I made it 29.37. Not too bad – 2 guys dropped out – and I finished with time to spare :-)
WOW – that was so much harder than I thought. The faster I tried to walk, the slower I felt like I was going. We couldn’t run – strictly walk. (I don’t know about you, but if I am caught in a fire, I’m not walking out of the woods)
Next up, I had fire shelter training…..you have a shelter in your pack in case you are caught in a fire with no escape. We were taught how to deploy and get into the shelter. Next we had to go outside, and do a run of it. We had to deploy the shelter, get inside and secure yourself inside. All this in 25 seconds. Doesn’t sound TOO bad right? This is supposed to be done with all your gear on – we do not have gear, but we have the safety helmet – and fire gloves…yes gloves. They were men’s gloves – do you think they fit? Yea, exactly. Pull shelter out, shake it out, jump inside – secure, 25 seconds. The shelter has 2 ‘cups’ head and tow you have to step into, and straps to hold on once inside.
I went 3rd – 1st guy made, 2nd did not (35 seconds). Yikes. I got ready, helmet, gloves…timer. I pulled the shelter out, fluffed it, dropped it…..fluffed it dropped it, stepped in one ‘cup’….got tangled in the top strap, moved out of the strap…grabbed the sides dropped to the ground…secure. (OH no….45 seconds had to have passed, it felt like FOREVER). Instructor comes over….checks all around your shelter makes sure it’s secure, no openings. “OK”. I ‘roll’ out, he is standing over me, I say “WHAT, 40 seconds?” He shows me the stop watch……………………24 seconds – what what?? NO way! All that happened to me and I still made it? (I actually stopped time). 4 guys failed by the way….and had to re-do it :-)
So what do all this mean? I completed the basics and am now ready to go on to training to be on the burn team. Am I crazy? Yes, yes is the answer to that question.
This is my grrrrrr face, and yes I am grrrrr’ing in the picture. This is after everyone completed….they wanted to get a pic of me – we had all ready folded the shelter to be packed away…dude threw it out so they could get the pic! Had to be a good sport. They actually wanted me to re-do the practice I told them NO WAY – I all ready passed!