When I was a kid, I thought being a fireman or a garbage man were the coolest jobs you could possibly have, probably in part because I wanted to ride on the back of their respective trucks. Of the two however, being a fireman was always the one I leaned more towards. I grew up at Common Road (12 1/2 Mile Road) and Hoover in Warren and one block over from me was Engine No. 5 of the Warren Fire Department. Anytime we heard that initial siren, we would run over to the firehouse to watch the guys race to the truck and ride out of the station with horns blaring and lights flashing, it was exciting!

Last week, I was honored and lucky enough to visit the Public Service Institute at Macomb Community College to see the training future firemen (and ladies) go through. Adjunct Program Director Marc Turo described the gear they wear and explained how important each piece was. I donned my gear and was ready to get out there and … interview some of the students. Casey Foren is one of two women in the program and when I asked her if she needed to work any harder to prove anything to the male students, she said that years of playing hockey has left her more than prepared. Now, we’ve all seen “Backdraft”, we know firefighters get all the chicks, right? When I asked students Clint Bess and Cameron Gelinas if that was indeed true, they responded with a firm, “Yes Sir”

Tom Lindeman, manager of the fire academy, understands how proper training can make the difference between life and death. Putting it mildly, Lindeman said, “If you miss a step it could be … life changing.” And I believe it, they allowed me to enter a building filled with smoke to see just how far you can see in front of your face and it’s about two feet. This is in a controlled environment, imagine not knowing if there’s a floor or not being familiar with the burning building you’re in and you’re surrounded by fire and smoke. In the near future, these guys and ladies will be putting their lives on the line everyday…for us. So, if you see a firefighter, just tell them ‘thanks’ for everything they do.

I want to thank everyone at the Macomb Community College Fire Academy for letting me realize a childhood dream and for letting me spend an afternoon with them … oh, and for allowing me to eat the best chili and mac and cheese I’ve ever had!

Watch the video to see more of Bill as he tries on turnout gear, navigates a smoky building and plays around with a fire hose.


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