Monday, October 5, 2009

YYZ North Fire Hall Tour

YYZ North Fire HallFor the most recent adventure, I was able to participate in a fantastic tour of the North Fire Hall at YYZ. This would have been a great tour regardless of the guide, but Firefighter Andy was incredible!

The tour began with a jaunt around the control room. An introduction to Andy was followed by an orientation and an explanation of the function and purpose of the various pieces of equipment in the half-moon shaped control room.Striker 4500 and 3000 Following this, it was out the door onto the tarmac where the Oshkosh Striker 4500 waited for us (a.k.a. "Red 3"). The machine was massive, and looked as though it belonged either in a war, or perhaps in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. This monster is 8 wheel drive, holds 4,500 gallons of water, has a couple of joystick-controlled water turrets and a thermal imaging camera.Striker 4500 Cab Although this vehicle is controlled and operated by only a single person, the "cockpit" seats 5 people wide but is reminiscent of a fighter jet (except for the steering wheel). Andy was kind enough to fire up the engine for us, and it did not disappoint! It sounds pretty much the way you would imagine it would sound by looking at it, but it FEELS even better. His demonstration of the engine brakes was the best massage I've ever had. I'm also still seeing spots from the lighting demonstration.

Though I did not want to leave the Striker 4500, there were other exciting things waiting for us inside the hall. Another Striker 3000, a smaller pumper truck, and an emergency response vehicle that seemed to have grown a little old and tired in the eyes of the firefighters.Small Pumper and Chip TruckStriker 3000 It was actually suggested that it would make an excellent french-fry truck. In addition to all of these exciting pieces of equipment, I also saw the biggest washer/dryer combo on the face of the earth! Throughout this tour, we were continually reminded where we were by taxiing and landing aircraft, as well as the screeches of the falcons living next door at the Airport Wildlife Control Center.

Miami Heat Taxiing  Falcons, Falcons and More Falcons  CanJet Getting a Tow

As exciting and fun as the tour was, there were sobering reminders of what these people have to deal with on a regular basis. Whether it be a person who has fallen and injured themselves, or an Air France A340 with 300 people on board that has careened off the end of a runway, make no mistake... these people are heroes. Thank you for the fantastic tour, Andy... and thank you YYZ Fire and Emergency Services!

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