Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Ablaze with enthusiasm!

Pardon the title of this post, I was trying to come up with something that reflected what I got up to yesterday!

Last Friday I got told by my tutor that I should probably try the "Person at Work" brief again. My photos weren't that great but there were a few that were salvageable, I need to edit them and sort out the ones I took last night. I told him that I'd been thinking of going up to the fire station near where I live since I figured it would be interesting, and since we need a running theme over the next few weeks for our documentary brief I figured it'd be convenient, fun and interesting. So I decided that after college, I'd head over to see one of the firemen I know and have known since I was knee high to a grasshopper. Fortunately, he also turned out to be the guy in charge of everybody else, which I didn't know until I got there. Such is life!

So after getting home feeling rather pleased with myself I unwound a little and had dinner, and then made my way up to the fire station for 6.30pm sharp. I didn't want to be late.

5 mins walk/jog later I arrived and got a bit of a puzzled look from one of the firemen, who held the door open for me as we turned up at the same time. They all lined up against the wall and waited for Nigel to tell them what to do. It turns out that every Monday night they have a different drill, and this week they were checking the pumps and the suction on the fire engines and the hoses. Next week it's to do with ladders. I hadn't been there for 5 minutes before one of the guys started making cracks and the banter started. He was making funny poses as soon as he saw my camera.

"Just pretend I'm not here," I told him.
"Oh you can't do that," somebody else said
"I know it'll be hard for you to do but you have to try..." I replied in a tone that was dripping with sarcasm. They all found it really funny and seemed happy that I was one for banter.

Shortly afterwards everybody got to work and started making checks on the fire engine itself first, and all the internal equipment. It turns out they have alarms that go off after 10 seconds inactivity, which you have to shake again to turn off, and if after 30 seconds no movement is detected, it means the fire fighter is unconscious and needs help. Shortly afterwards the full alarm sounds and somebody goes to help. Quite clever really.

Once all the gas masks and other alarms, bells and whistles had been given a look over they opened the garage door and drove the engine out. They then all lined up like they do in the army and all had numbers and a certain pattern they had to be in. They stood to attention and got told to stand at ease, ran around in circles and stood in single file. It was all really interesting to me as I'd never seen it before.

I got a couple of hundred pictures from the evening. It was quite funny to see the hose filling up with water and whacking people in the legs if they got in the way. It was so powerful that it looked like they were just leaning on it rather than holding it in place. One thing's for sure, that fence is never gonna get dirty as it get's cleaned at least once every couple of weeks.

After about an hour and a half of the freezing cold we went inside and I got asked if I needed anything else. I got told that it'd be great if I could take some shots of them relaxing. Somebody made a comment that if this was going to happen every week then I was welcome to come more often! So I had a cup of tea with some of them and a chat that was threaded with more banter, and took some more photos. They had an older engine turn up too and I took photos of them all sorting equipment out on it.

Finally I decided that I should head back home as not a lot more was happening and I had the shots I needed for the two current briefs. One of the guys, Nigel's son Chris, was heading in the same direction so we had a chat on the way back. I got home feeling like I'd accomplished something and felt really enthusiastic about the project all the while I was at the station. I get along really well with everybody there and there's some really funny characters. I'm looking forwards to going back next Monday!

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