Day 40, January 8, 2010:  I’m crawling down a narrow tunnel – 3 feet wide and 3 feet tall – searching for a way out….out to sunshine….out to air! I was wearing full turn out gear and SCBA, and “on air,” and was carrying an axe and a...

It was Day 40 of the academy, and I was picking up several extremely practical lessons today, including (I think) solving the frozen feet problem! Using some advice I read about in a camping magazine, today I dressed in light wool socks, then put a plastic bag on my feet, and donned a thicker pair of socks over the plastic bags before donning my fire boots. My feet were TOASTY warm!! The plastic acts as a vapor barrier, keeping foot moisture from soaking into the insulation of the boots or the thick socks. Once the socks become wet (without the plastic), they lose their insulating qualities.  The plastic keeps the moisture inside, so the thin socks get damp, but the outside socks stay dry and provide maximum insulation. It worked today - I’ll keep trying it to ensure the idea really works in a variety of conditions. Today was sunny and felt warm to me….I was very surprised to see that the temperature was, in fact, only 4 degrees outside at the end of the day!
Today consisted entirely of three practical stations and one short classroom session. The classroom session was a lecture on the Police Arson Unit, and presented by Sergeant Mike Wortman of the Saint Paul Police Department. It was short and to the point.
The final test for the Roof Chop was today also. I felt much more comfortable on the roof today. I forgot about falling, and didn’t have to worry about frozen feet (thanks to the bags on my feet), so I focused on CHOPPING. No problem passing the 4 minute time standard – I completed the chop in 2 ½ minutes. One young buck in our class did it in 59 seconds – on his first try ever at the chop! Nice work, SL!!
The final practical station today was fighting an actual car fire. Our 4-man crew did a good job, and we learned something about wind conditions, upwind approaches, and the hazards of fighting fires in 4 degree temperatures! 
The sun was shining all afternoon, and it felt warmer than it was - maybe because the learning experiences were getting more practical and more “real.” I certainly felt we were making great progress towards our ultimate goal of graduating and becoming skilled firefighters. Week Nine – frozen, icy Week Nine – ended with warm toes, a good feeling of accomplishment, and some extremely valuable lessons learned….what more could a recruit want….except a weekend to recover, right??? 
Later in the evening, my wife and I went to the new Fire headquarters building and used the work out equipment there. I ran for 4 miles before finally saying “ENOUGH,” and walking off the remainder of our hour long workout. My total caloric output for the day was over 3,000 calories: 750 for the mask maze and AM work; 1,425 for the afternoon sessions for the car fire and Roof Chop, and over 1,000 for the evening workout. I went to sleep exhausted and happy…..