GREENSBORO, NC -- As a reporter, I've covered many fires. From house fires to restaurants going up in flames - it's a familiar tale. But what actually happens during those fires - that was foreign to me. Well, until now.
On Wednesday the Greensboro Fire Department invited members of the media to try out the job. A firefighter for the day, if you will. A week before they sent us an email, "start hydrating now." That should've been my warning.
After a briefing they took us to the "tin can" to get our turnout gear. Boots, pants, suspenders, jacket, helmet, facemask, oxygen tank, gloves, and eyewear - it weighed about 60 pounds. After that - I was ready to go.
The first task was with Engine 4. It seemed simple enough: grab the hose, run into the building full of smoke, put out the flames. NOT SIMPLE! The hose is heavy, the smoke blocks out everything (seriously, you can't see), and I didn't know where to go or what to expect. Luckily one of the firefighters yelled tips at me throughout the exercise. "Keep your hand on the wall," and "hold on to the hose," sound easy enough but really helped me out.
Then, onto the next task. I worked with the extrication team to pull apart a car - yes, a car - and simulate saving victims of a crash.
Using a device to break glass and the jaws of life to pry open the doors was difficult but thinking about doing those tasks during a real crash, with people inside, was even harder.
Finally - the hardest exercise of the day - search and rescue. (I think they saved the most challenging task for last on purpose.) First, put on all of your gear, bust through a door, enter the burning, smoke-filled building, search for obstacles, find the victim, get him out. I was covered in sweat, trying to breath normally and carry more weight than I probably ever had.
The funny thing is - firefighters do this every day, in real conditions, with real lives on the line. One firefighter said on a scale of 1-10 what we did was a 0.5 and what they do on a call is a 20.
It makes you appreciate what these guys do for us and helped me understand what goes into the stories I report.
To see my full experience watch The Good Morning Show on Thursday, October 19th from 6:00 - 7:30 a.m.