February 2, 2010:

Today was – for me – the final day of the academy. Today’s final written exam would be the final hurdle. I would skip the tour of the dispatch center this afternoon, having directed a similar center in Saint Paul for 14 years. I still visit the Emergency Communications Center (ECC) and know many of the employees there. I elected instead, to skip the tour of the ECC and go back to the office this afternoon and catch up on things there.
The Final Written Test consisted of 130 questions: 80 Firefighter II level questions from the textbook and 50 questions about the Department’s SOPs. All 21 members of the class passed, so ALL of us will graduate on Friday!! YES!! We did it together and without losing anyone along the way!!!
In the early afternoon we traveled to Fire Station 23 to clean and hang the fire hoses we had used during training, and to conduct practical training on shutting down a fire sprinkler by driving a wooden wedge into the sprinkler head while water poured out of the sprinkler system. It was a wild, wet afternoon, as all of us climbed the step ladder, stood under the gushing water, and reached up to feel for the sprinkler head, orient the wooden wedge into the sprinkler housing, and push and hammer the wedge in place to slow…and then stop….the water flow! 
Soaking wet, we peeled off our turnout gear, separated outer shells from liners, and hauled ourgear back to the Training Center, where the gear would be washed and dried over the next couple of days.
My classmates climbed into the vans for the trip to the ECC, and I headed to the office. We’d be reunited on Friday at graduation.