January 22, 2010: This morning the class quickly hustled through a 65-question written test covering 5 textbook chapters and 17 Department SOPs. I aced the exam – my first perfect score on a written exam in over a month....   Following the...

After the last evolution, Captain Deno brought all of us into the smoky structure and had us sit down in one of the large rooms. We couldn’t see beyond 4 feet or so due to the thick smoke. Then, Captain Deno opened a back door or window on the house, while Mr. Vrona started a gas-powered fan on the front porch. The fan created “positive pressure ventilation” – pushing air into the house, creating an over-pressurized situation. The smoke and fumes inside the building quickly found the exit opening on the back side of the house, and in just a minute or two the visibility inside the house improved dramatically. It was a graphic demonstration of the benefits of positive pressure ventilation!
The day was warm – about 34 degrees - and the melting snow and slush made footing treacherous around the vehicles. Wet gloves were a constant factor. Although each evolution was fairly short in duration, we reset the gear and “loaded hose” on the engines between each evolution, so it was a long day of training. After nearly 5 hours in our air packs, by lower back was aching, and I was ready for a warm shower and a short, 2-day weekend. 
At the end of the day, we loaded up our gear and wearily climbed into the rigs for the short run back to the Training Center. We unloaded the gear and brought it inside so it wouldn’t freeze over the weekend. My classmates invited me to stop for some refreshments on the way home, but I wanted to give them their space and a chance to decompress without me. I opted for the solitude of the car and the short trip home to see “The Commissioner” and the rest of my family. Week 11 was over, and I was bushed.....Tomorrow (Saturday) I would join several members of the Department’s “Climb for a Cure” team, and climb 50 stories of stairs in the IDS tower in Minneapolis in preparation for a fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Tomorrow was just a practice climb or two; the actual “Climb” is scheduled for February 6th – the day after our academy class graduation.
That wraps up Week 11 of the Saint Paul Fire Academy!  Just 9 training days left until graduation. In that short time we’ll have more live fire training, a final written test, the Fourth Quarter Practical Exam, and the Minnesota State Firefighter II written and practical tests. So, it’ll be an action-packed time over the next two weeks – much of it “on the farm” instead of in “Pair-ee,” but the end is in sight!
Thanks for joining me “on scene” at the Sherburne Avenue Smokehouse Evolutions!