Did i learn a lesson last week.
That’s a question with a period, i know.
I was trying to arrange for a team of us at NIKE to go to a fire station to get some inspiration around the idea of “everyday heroes.”
So after cold calling a station near our house, i was put in touch with a super cool woman named Cassandra to work out the details.
Here’s how it went down:
Cassandra: So what exactly are you looking for in this visit?
Me: Well, our crew would like to see what a day in the life of a fireman is like. You know, what tools they use to keep them (and us) alive when called to a fire.
Cassandra: Ok, and how long do you think you’ll be?
Me: we’d love to hang out for a couple hours. It’s not often you can sit down with firemen and talk to them in depth! It will be super inspiring for our design team as we think about how to address durability, lightweight, and moisture management.
Cassandra: I think we can totally arrange that. But i have to ask you one favor. Could you please address us as “Firefighters?” As a woman and a firefighter myself, we would really appreciate that.
Andrea: Yes, i can totally do that once i pull this humble flavored firefighter boot out of my esophagus.
So i learned. I thought maybe they were still called firemen, even the females, because maybe it was like female actors that didn’t like to be called actresses? Then i thought about it more and that became a completely stupid and irrelevant analogy.
Anywho, Cassandra hooked us up with Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue Station #60, and what went down was beyond awesome so i just had to share the story, and since this a photography blog, folks, i’ll share some edited (along with the non-edited original) photos because i kind of think they turned out amazing.
The day before we went, i looked up the station online, because the internets have all sorts of information, i recently found out. I wanted to find pictures of what we might expect, so i could prep our team for a great experience.
Was there a pole? If so, i wanted to call the station to see if we had to bring in a release to slide down the pole.
Did they have a dalmation? if so, how many spots did it have? Was it named Spot?
You see? these questions needed answers!
But i didn’t get much online. All i found was a picture of their community room:
I felt kind of bummed for TVFR station #60 because of this community room. I thought if THAT was their community room, what did the rest of the station offer? I mean, there’s not even a pole.
We got there at 10:30 am Tuesday morning, Valentine’s Day.
We met four of the most incredible human beings imaginable.
Not just because they were firefighters, but because they LOVED being firefighters.
You could hear it in every part of our tour. They OWNED that damn community room. They slathered their refrigerators with pictures of their family. They took PRIDE in their office space, where every minute detail of every incident is documented.
And then, and THEN, after we hammered them with questions about their workouts (mandatory once a day, often doubles), their shifts (24 hours, 7am-7am), the weight of their suits (60 lbs with oxygen), how they keep from getting killed in a fire (multiple answers, we listened intently with jaws on the floor), and what the one innovation would be that they would give everything else up to have (weight reduction in their gear)…came the magic words from Captain Mike K.
“Would you all like to try on our gear?”
Here’s where it gets awesomer.
We all dressed up in the gear. What takes them 60 seconds to put on, took each of us a minimum of 4 minutes. Each and every one of you would be dead if you were relying on us to save you if your brain had stopped receiving oxygen and we were called. But Mike, Brad, Laurie, and Malik? 60 seconds flat. They could be to you in 7 minutes. which means you got to live.
Ok, bear with me. Laurie is a woman. A woman firefighter. Now, this next thought has been a LOT on my mind lately ever since that silly Santorum guy made a remark about how women in combat could create a “compromising situation” because of “emotions.” I know Laurie is not fighting on the frontlines of Afghanistan right now. But spend 15 minutes with Laurie, and the following is clear:
Observation 1: There is no way the guys treat her any differently because she is a female when that unit is in the midst of a scorching fire that could blow at any time.
Observation 2: She could draw upon her super human strength if needed. One could just see it in her eyes, feel it in the woven bond of their unit.
Observation 3: i would put my daughter’s life, every single one of her 10 years, in Laurie’s hands.
There is not one part of me that can fathom that she couldn’t handle the frontlines, nor that the men next to her would take issue with it.
Had to digress, because this issue is just, in my humble opinion, a non-issue.
And now we’re back.
Below are just a handful of the hundreds of photos i shot. I thought it would be great to include the originals, to have a sense of the editing and cropping i chose before posting.
take note: if the photo is of someone in a firefighter suit, it’s one of us, living a fantasy. The Unit 60 firefighters are the ones in blue.
All of them, the Captain with his years of experience, supremely confident to make the calls that will hopefully save lives, Laurie, with soaring confidence and strength, Brad, the one that took my call in the first place and led the tour of the station, and Malik, the driver, and the guy who geeked out on all their gadgetry, gave us an unforgettable experience, a glimpse into what it means to save lives on a regular basis.
What it means to be a firefighter.
So here we go. in pictures.
(this is bobby, ex professional snowboarder and current sports marketing guru, who yes, actually rubbed dirt on his face to get the authentic look)
60 seconds from this…
to this. Seems impossible, but they do it.
So really, these pictures are for them. So the four of them can appreciate that they really changed our lives this Valentine’s Day. Maybe they’ll hang a couple in their community room :).
So to Captain Mike,
Thank you for an amazing experience,
and thank you for being firefighters.
AC (and the NIKE Action Crew)
Postscript: I wanted to get a group photo of the 4 firefighters, but as we approached the end of our visit, when i had intended to snap it, they were called by dispatch. As they ran to the truck, they looked back, waved, and said, i swear, “could you lock up on your way out?”