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And it’s true that firefighters get fun toys. At the vehicle extrication station, we enthusiastically if haltingly hacked apart a hapless Buick LeSabre rescued from the junkyard for training purposes.
There was the spring-loaded punch that could shatter a window into hundreds of fragments in an instant. We used another hand tool to smash a hole in a laminated windshield and saw it out in a big sheet. We got a turn at powerful hydraulic shears that could snap through a door hinge or even a frame post, after a spreader popularly called the Jaws of Life widened openings.
But despite cautions to let the machines do the work and not get pinned between the tool and the car, we still got an idea of the physical stresses of the job. Firefighters were ecstatic that their new hydraulic tools were lighter than the old ones, but to reporters with desk jobs they still seemed plenty bulky.
After a morning traipsing around the training facility in heavy outfits through three limited exercises, an old guy like me and a young guy like Roper, both in decent shape for our ages, were ready to drop off to sleep at our desks by midafternoon.
But if we were real firefighters, our shift would have been barely one-third over.
Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438