December 31, 2009: Today’s the day I’ve been looking forward to for two weeks! Not only will the Second Quarter Practical Exam be over, but a very long and strenuous week will be over as well. I am looking forward to the weekend and “sleeping...

I run through the doorway and run up the stairs to the 3rd floor (in turnout gear and SCBA, I imagine it appears to be more of a lumbering trot), but I am making good time. I reach the third floor without slowing down, drop the bundle, and throw the gated Y valve and hose over my left shoulder, and remove the cover from the standpipe connection. I make the connection to the standpipe, open the valve, and move quickly to the next station: the timed hose line. I pull the sixty pound hose across the floor (wrestle it, more like!), and get into a crouch to hold the hose line for the required 60 seconds.....I slow my breathing and catch my breath.....holding.....holding......holding.....finally, Mr. Deno counts down, “Five, four, three, two, one, GO!” I drop the nozzle and run to the fifth floor. One challenge left: hoist that big bundle of frozen hose up the side of the building and through the window.....
I reach the fifth floor and am feeling good....I brace my left foot against the window sill, and take the slack out of the rope....then I pull, pull, PULL. It comes up like a brick through wet sand, but it comes up. It gets easier towards the top (still don’t understand that, except for the weight of the rope), then finally, it is at the top!! I lower the bundle back down to the ground “hand over hand” (allowing the rope to slip through your hands is an automatic failure!). Finally, the bundle strikes the ground, and I race out the door and fly down the stairs to the ground level. The descent of the stairs can only be described as a controlled fall. The right hand acts as a pivot on the rail just before I reach each landing, while the left acts as a brake on the opposite rail just before each landing to keep me from crashing into the wall as I make the U-turn to descend the next set of stairs. The right hand then pulls me forward so that I essentially launch myself down the next set of stairs......Repeat 8 times and I’m off the stairs and pass through the entrance door!! The stopwatch marks the time: 5 minutes, 21 seconds! DONE! Four tests down, and all were successfully passed! The week from hell is over!
The last session of the day involved a lecture on hybrid and alternative fuel cars by Mr. Vrona. Included was a tour of his car, a hybrid. It was an informative and relaxing way to end the day and the week. I was looking forward to taking a night off from studying, and I felt happy and relaxed on the drive home. 2009 had finished on a high note!
I wish you all a very happy and safe New Year’s weekend, and a most prosperous and healthy 2010!