The Richmond Review, Wednesday, August 19, 1981

by Graeme Elliott

I suppose there were a few raised eyebrows at Minoru Oval last Thursday, when I failed to show up for Richmond Fire Department's physical testing of applicants for jobs. I was detained elsewhere, sad to say.
I have not always wanted to be a fireman. Ever since I was a small boy, I have never dreamed of being one. I have wanted to make $27,000 a iyear, however; that is the stuff a little boy's dreams are made of.
My resolve was set, but my enthusiasm waned a little when I found out the requirements. I have perfect vision, am tall enough, and have no criminal record to speak of, but the requirements also mentioned running, carrying and lifting, in the series of tests I unfortunately missed Thursday.
To be on the safe side, I decided to train for the session. I am not out of shape, mind you. Everyone puffs a little going down stairs.
Running 1-1/2 miles in 12 minutes was out of the question; walking for 12 minutes is
an over-exertion. Besides, when was the last time you saw firemen run to a blaze? Never. They ride around on firetrucks, with sirens and lights and horns going off. I decided to walk for longer times each day, until I hit 12 minutes, and then try to go faster.
Training for the second test was easy, though my dear lady was perplexed. She thought I was being romantic, picking her up and carrying her around the house.
One day, as I lay exhausted from the exertion, she coyly asked what had caused these amorous advances?
I wheezed, then said "arduous" might be a better word. I wheezed again, and told her I was training for the fire department tests. She asked what that had to do with carrying her around? I told her one part of the test required the applicant to carry a 125 pound dummy...
It was one of those
sentences you never get to finish. The subject has not been raised since, so I have been unable to explain one has to carry a football dummy 150 feet in 24 seconds. The fire department said "24 seconds or less," but 24 seconds is already impossible; "or less" invites heart attacks among the applicants, making the final selection easier, one supposes.
The information about the last test, lifting a heavy ladder off hooks 79 inches above ground, was a little confusing.
How heavy? How big are the hooks? How heavy? These questions plagued me. The part about replacing it without faltering perplexed me as well. What is the time limit for replacing it? Most fires last a reasonable time, so I decided to take the stepladder off the nail in the toolshed wall, and replace it an hour later. I did not falter once in this rigourous routine.
While I was training, I
thought about the second series of tests. More tests of strength? Who did they want, Superman? Flexibility? Well, I'm easy. Reaction time? Deep water runs still, they tell me, and I respond a day or two later. Balance? My long suite. I never fall out of bed, and only rarely out of chairs. Coordination? I thought they supplied uniforms, but guessed my grey flannels, burgundy double-knit sports jacket, and striped cotton shirt would do. Ability to run an obstacle course? The only obstacle is my inability to run.
The third stage (picky lot, these) involves an intelligence test, and a round of interviews. An intelligance test? Yes, I can pass that.
And so, after all my training and hard work, I was unable to show up at Minoru. I was feeling chilled. My feet were particularly cold.
To those of you who wake in the middle of the night, hearing a siren wail past your house, Good night. RFD is in good, strong hands.

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