by Daiyu Tang and Jenny Hsu
On the 24th March 2022, our team were lucky enough to observe one of the Fire Department’s finest undertaking a practice exercise on the University Campus.
At around 6am, when our team were about to turn in they had seen FDH Lieutenant Messmer driving one of the Department’s largest Fire Engines, lights, strobes and everything around the square near Super Chop Sticks. With what seemed like a huge amount of care, the Lieutenant appeared to be testing his equipment, for example extending the ladder in order to ensure that the equipment was in perfect working order.
Our team of Jenny Hsu and Daiyu Tang quickly spotted an opportunity to get you an insight into FDH and at the same time ask some of our trademark tough GBTL questions about civic services within Hathian. Without much fuss and possibly related to how approachable Jenny is, the Lieutenant agreed to conduct the interview. As you’ll later see this extended to taking the News team on both a ride in the fire engine and an opportunity to participate in an exclusive behind the scenes tour in the Fire House.
Reproduced below with editing for brevity is our summary of the day, which the news team would like to say we greatly enjoyed.
Jenny Hsu: “Thank you for offering us a bit of your time today. We’re the Girl Behind the Lens crew from the Hathian Observer. You’re on campus now and it’s fairly early in the morning, are you here for a real emergency, or are you here the new alarm clock for the students?”
Lieutenant Messmer: “Hi there ‘Girls behind cameras’, please call me Rog… The college is a high traffic area so the potential for issues here is greater than a lot of other places in the city. The team and I like to run training here when things are quiet as it’s better to be familiar with an area before any problem occurs. Maybe as an added bonus the students will make class on time today”
Jenny Hsu: “Great! I’m sure everyone appreciates the time spent preparing for emergencies. So can you tell me whether you have enough resources, enough trucks? I hear that they’re pretty old and that the City hasn’t invested in the Fire Department? Please tell us a bit about that!”
Rog: “Well, like all city departments the FDH could always use more funding, but even though our trucks aren’t the newest they’re more than able to keep our City safe.”
It was at this point in the interview that, from behind the camera that your camera girl noticed the healthy appetite that the Lieutenant had for Jenny’s bosom, but unlike certain institutions, the Lieutenant was a perfect gentleman.
Jenny Hsu: “That’s great to hear, even older things when looked after can do wonders. So, can you tell me a little about the demonstration in front of the HPD? I understand that the FDH was part of those and was involved in using force against peaceful protesters? How do you think this plays out for the public and is the use of live saving equipment in this manner justified? Is it an abuse against Civilians?”
Daiyu Tang: “I think what my colleague is meaning to ask, is whether, there are perhaps better tools that HPD could use, rather than the Fire Department”
Rog: “Well actually I was there at the demonstration. We had been placed on stand by, due to intelligence received that some of the rioters might be planning to use Molotov Cocktails against the officers and the building… While that may not have come to pass, when it did appear that the rioters might breach HPD’s line which could risk them being able to free some of the worst from the jail, we made the decision to deploy the truck and used it to keep people back.”
Daiyu Tang: “So you took action to prevent the need to deploy lethal force? Something that perhaps HPD is known for.”
Rog: “Exactly, the use of high pressure water can be dangerous but it’s far less dangerous than lethal force. I’m proud to help protect the City and well, saying that firefighters got you a bit wet, doesn’t sound as bad as being shot does it?”
Jenny Hsu: “Well, there should always be better ways… Our readers surely appreciated that the FDH was there to prevent further escalation then…”
Readers may very well recall that on the defund the police protest the HPD had fortified OUR Police station into something resembling an End of the World bunker. The Observer staff were there to capture the HPD drive a SWAT van towards the protest with gleeful abandon and a swathe of tear gas.
Rog: “Exactly, while I can’t comment on actions that may have been undertaken by the HPD and it would be a better world if there were magic pixies spraying happy dust everywhere and cops were all happy and friendly… but that’s not the world. I would like to state that the FHD has always maintained an excellent reputation in the City. We operate ont he principal of worst come, first serve and always do the best we can to help the people of Hathian. If you like, I’d be glad to give you a tour of our equipment and station; help you see it better, get a feel for what we do and put to bed any rumours you might have heard?”
The Girl Behind the Lens team agreed to accompany the Lieutenant back to the station, riding in the Engine through the streets of Hathian. We’re pleased to report that it was a comfortable ride and the driving of the Lieutenant was impeccable. Our reporter Jenny Hsu found the seating position commanding, although the suspension was a little firm. Each time the Lieutenant hit a bump in the road, he always made sure to check that Jenny was ok and not bouncing around too much.
At the FDH station, we continued the interview while on tour. Our news team felt that the building was impressive with a gleaming away of washed vehicles including at least two fire engines and two ambulances. Despite funding issues, it appears through the hard work of firefighters like Lieutenant Rog that FDH is ready to serve at a moment’s notice.
As we started the tour, we observed the row of uniforms hanging up near the back of the garage area. Our news team agreed with the Lieutenant that it would be possible to try on the kit and we conducted more of the interview with Jenny dressed up in some of the ‘Probie’ gear for new recruits.
Rog: “Well, what you’re trying on now are just the bunker jackets, pants, helmet and so on. The full kit, for example with Oxygen Tanks, kit such as an ax, all of that can weigh over a hundred pounds… Let’s start you with the basics!”
Jenny Hsu: “That sound really heavy! Surely that makes it a tough job before any fire even happens?”
After our reporter changed we asked her how it felt, with the Lieutenant kindly assisting Jenny with ensuring the clothes fitted in all the right places.
Jenny Hsu: “This is so heavy! I don’t understand how you carry all of this, even if you are very strong! What does the ‘Probie’ writing mean?”
Rog: “Well, don’t you look like you’re ready to answer the call… Probie standards for probationary firefighter, basically someone newly hired to work for us… Mostly they make coffee, tidy the station, check the equipment, but they may also man a hose during an actual fire. We have around thirty trained people on the roster at any one time and perhaps over the course of a year we might get a two hundred apply and go through training maybe half of that.
Jenny: “Wow, that’s a lot of time spent training! Is most of what you do fire related, or do you also do a lot of other work?”
Rog: “Well, most of our work is actually medical in nature here, but when there is a fire we have to have all hands on deck and we need to ensure we’re ready 24 by 7, 365 days a year.”
At this point in the interview the Lieutenant suggested that his time was running short, but that before he needed to cut the interview, our team should try out the big pole in the FDH station. As anyone knows, the thought of getting to slide down a fireman’s pole is enough to get you wet even without a hosepipe and with Jenny assuring us she was scared of heights, it was up to Daiyu to try it out. Rog provided your reporter with careful instructions about how to wrap her hands around the pole; how to get a good grip and then how to use her thighs to slide down the pole without causing injury. One successful jump later and your reporter is convinced that the FDH could charge for the enjoyment!
This has been the Girl Behind the Camera team and thank you for reading this interview with FDH.