Rest assured, the title of this post in inspired neither by allegory nor by literal action on my part–though I must admit to eying those matches on the desk for a solid fifteen seconds….
As a mild disclaimer, I do not know the entirety of this story, so I will partially speculate to fill in the gaps in my knowledge, starting now.
Several weeks ago, while coming back from Batumi, Pik Quinn met a young Georgian man on a marshrutka and spoke English with him. His name is Sergo and he is a fireman. He has since frequently texted her just to say “Hi!” and “How’s the weather?” Though she expressed in private some degree of exasperation, she was very friendly towards him and promised that if she came to Tbilisi she would visit him. End speculation.
Last weekend PQ was indeed in Tbilisi! As such, she arranged to visit Sergo at the firestation. Together we set off, address in hand, in search of Sergo’s workplace. All we knew was that we could get there from Freedom Square by bus.
We arrived in the center of town and hopped on a bus going in the right direction. When we got off we spent a fruitless forty-five minutes walking up and down the street looking for the right number. As it turns out, addresses in Georgia are not synched up from one side of the street to the other. That is to say that if you are standing at, say, 37 Main St., 36 Main St. is likely not across the street from you.
We finally found the place and met up with Sergo and his friend Ladu. They agreed to give us a tour of the building! Well, at least of the garage. Tbilisi firemen work twenty-four hour shifts every third day. Each truck has a 2-4 man crew that operates it depending on the size of the water tanks on the truck.
When the alarm rings, the firemen must drop whatever they are doing (eating, sleeping, playing table tennis, playing basketball, showing around a pair of foreigners, etc.) and run to the truck as fast as possible! This includes, you’ll be happy to know, sliding down a fireman’s pole!
It probably takes a fireman years of practice to nail the landing coming off that pole, but PQ got it on her first try. And for the record, it is very hard for me to use phrases like “nail the landing coming off that pole,” and “very hard” without making “That’s what she said” jokes. If you know me, you know how hard it is to restrain myself like this. It’s almost as hard as sliding down the pole for the first time.
Now, it’s an awfully wide pole, but we were told that when the firestation moves to its new building within the next sixish months, they will have a nice slender pole that will be easier to handle. They wouldn’t let us actually ride it, so I can’t say whether size matters.
They showed us all the working parts of a fire truck, from the cab, to the oxygen masks (“It has no oxygen. Only air”), to the hoses and pumps.
To be perfectly honest, I can’t think of the last time I visited a firestation. Maybe in fourth or fifth grade I went to the Cumberland Center firestation. But Cumberland, ME is a very small town.
Ladu and Sergo told us that their truck has ladders capable of reaching the third floor of a building. That’s excellent, but what about higher stories? Granted, most buildings in Tbilisi are pretty low, but some might need something a little more heavy-duty. Something like this, perhaps?
All told, I’d say it was an excellent adventure that probably most people don’t get to have every day. Like I said, I’ve been to maybe one firestation in the US. PQ has visited none in Malaysia.
I suppose the moral of the story is that, ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT FOREST FIRES–but firemen and their trucks are there as back up, just in case.