Class tonight was fun, if tiring.

I put on my Scott pack for time… Starting with my turnout gear on except for gloves and helmet, I can ‘Scott-up’ in under 45 seconds. This means turning on the cylinder, checking the two pressure gauges against each other, putting on the pack by throwing it over my head and slipping my arms through the straps, tightening the shoulder straps, putting on and tightening the waist belt, putting on and tightening the face mask, testing the seal of the face mask by putting my hand over the hole where the regulator attaches, pulling up my Nomex hood, putting on my helmet and tightening the strap, attaching the regulator and making sure it feeds air to the mask, and putting on my gloves. In forty-five seconds. Actually, I did it in thirty-eight. The next ‘donning’ challenge is starting in street clothes and putting on all of my personal protective equipment including Scott pack in a minute and a half.

We then practiced going up and down stairs. It’s a little different than the usual, what with painstakingly checking each step for soundness before putting one’s weight on it. And crawling, of course.

Then we went through an obstacle course in pairs. This consisted of crawling through a room wearing Scott packs while following a fire hose. The hose went through a weight bench, diagonally, necessitating removing the Scott pack and pushing it through the gap, then wriggling through. Then the hose snaked over a bench, up a ramp, around a corner, through a thin, tight gap, then under several tables. Other than going through the weight bench, we were able to keep our Scotts on although going under the tables was tight.

After doing the obstacle course with the lights on, we covered our masks with our Nomex hoods and the lights were turned off. We then had to do it again blind, following the hose. It was tough, especially breathing canned air and wearing hot turnout gear. The instructor screwed the end of the hose back to the beginning, so just as we thought we were done we had to go back under the weight bench. Bastard.

When I left class I felt like a squozed-out tube of toothpaste, plus, I was quite sweaty.

I used to think that turnout gear smelled like hockey equipment (I’m sure you know that olfactory memory is the best form of memory; I have no problems remembering what hockey gear smells like from back when I used to play). Anyway, I’ve decided I was mistaken. Turnout gear actually smells like having a barbeque in a locker room.

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