For many of us there's nothing surprising about a long day of work, but after spending a day in the life of a firefighter I may have to reconsider the meaning of long. When I arrived at 7:30 in the morning, the firefighters had already been working for almost an hour; cleaning the firehouse and checking equipment for their day.
At 8 the firefighters have a wellness hour where they can lift weights and go for a run. They tell me that they need to keep their bodies in top shape to be able to deal with all of the physical stress that their job requires.
After wellness the department goes over some new training. I rode a long with them to the nearby community of Weston where they had plans to brush up on the ladder truck they share. The Battalion Cheif tells me that because the ladder truck is such a complicated aparatus, it requires a basic refresher course once in a while to keep the firefighters skills honed.
To be honest the bucket was a little high for my liking and it started to make me a little queasey, but that didn't stop me from learning a few of the controls and taking in the view.
The fire department schedules training everyday, but that training may need to be rescheduled if the firefighters are responding to an emergency. Surprisingly the day I was there was rather slow for calls, but that's usually not the case. At any moment these firefighters could have to drop what they're doing and respond to an emergency.
Dinner time brings some needed relief to the firefighters; where goofing around with friends and enjoying a great meal goes a long way to rejuvinate them. The firefighters share most duties at the station, but there are some things that just the rookie gets stuck with. The day I was there I became the rookie, and the firefighters put me on dish duty.
My day was done after dinner, but it was only the half way point for the firefighters. Their 24 hour shift was far from over, and the city of Wausau still counts on them to be ready for anything.