This is the blurb from Facebook we had for the meeting. Chapter Meeting April 26, 2014:
This month marks our annual “Dangerous Jobs” meeting, where we bring in speakers who experience the sort of adventure we writers like to put in our stories.
Morning session: Firefighter Tony Cota
Tony Cota, firefighter for the Tucson Fire Department and 2014’s cover model for the Tucson Firefighter’s calendar will be heating things up with an discussion on the ins and outs of a firefighter’s job description. You’ll be front row to Fire Science 101 as Tony walks you through a typical fire scene and the responsibilities of each crew responding.
Yes, more than a pretty face, lol! I grew up in New York, reading Fireman Dennis Smith’s books about being a fireman in the South Bronx. I remember my local firehouse in Brooklyn Heights, Engine Company 224 on Hicks Street. I knew a fireman in high school. He married the secretary of the Chemistry Department at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where my Dad Marvin Charton taught and where my Mom Barbara Charton still teaches.
The Tucson Fire Department Calendar is a fun thing, but the money from its sales is for charity. The Department raises money for many charities.
It’s important to be accurate, whether you’re writing fiction or non fiction. Tony had a power point presentation, explaining many of the complexities of fire fighting in Tucson.
He stated to me, Tucson has one of the longest fire academies in the United States. Training is twenty-two weeks. They need to learn some basic chemistry, engineering and things about building. Different fires burn different ways. It’s an almost military arrangement of approaching how to fight each fire.
I’ve mentioned fire fighting, but Tony told us something, I would never have thought of. Eighty percent of the fire department calls in Tucson are medical situations, not a fire. All are trained as paramedics. Now, I understand why for a medical emergency, a fire truck may also show up.
Tony admitted, fireman may have been childhood pyromaniacs and like breaking things. It makes sense. Most of us will run away from a raging fire. Here you need someone who will run toward it. People may have a fit, when the fireman break through the roof of their house, but it helps in controlling and putting the fire out, through ventilation.
They have no idea what they are really going to face on a call. Being from New York City, I remember 9/11 well. Three hundred forty three fire fighters died that day. Many more may die from breathing what was in that fire. Picture half on the Tucson Fire Department being killed in a single day. My friend, who escaped from the 72nd Floor of Tower One remembers many fireman passing him on the way up.
Tony told us about the famous picture of the Oklahoma City fireman pulling the child out from the Oklahoma City Bombing. That fireman committed suicide. My point is, you see the tragedy on the news of a fireman dying at a fire. What about the ones who are sick or die quietly?
They have learned to accept help, physical and psychological. Tony laughingly called himself and other fireman knuckleheads.