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Firefighting: Finding Your Niche

Kristen Winters

Search and rescue: we practice it a lot a the academy. A quick, yet vital step in the firefighting process.

When we first began search and rescue in the academy, it soon became apparent that I was a natural. Was it because I had kids and I knew where they would hide when they were scared? Was it woman’s intuition? Who knows.

The instructors went into the tower to hide the dummies. It was then our job as a ‘truck company’ to go in and do a quick search.

Doing searches always made me nervous; nothing between me and the fire. I used to break out in a cold sweat when I was given this task.

I remember standing on the balcony outside one of the levels of the burn tower. The roar of the fire had gotten so loud that the instructor had to shout his directions.

The smoke was thick, billowing out of the cracks of the ‘windows’. We all began to cough and therefore started to mask up, which made the instructor harder to hear.

I turned to one of my brothers, silently pointing to my hood. They knew exactly what I meant by that point. One of them took off a glove and tucked a stray lock of my hair under my hood.

I heard an “OK, go!” We switched on our flashlights and ran in. I wound up the last one in out of four. The guys ran in, flipping chairs and moving dressers. Destruction = fun.

I got into the exercise too, which really surprised me. I never had the desire to break things before. Now, it was fun.

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