I miss getting to work an hour early, the apparatus floor ghostly quiet, the boot room waiting, smoke mixed with sweat and leather, gear lined up, squared away, waiting for bodies to fill it.
I miss signing the accountability sheet, seeing who was already there, climbing the stairs and entering the day room, hot coffee ready, quiet now, before the banter begins.
I miss telling the person I relieved they’re “all set,” telling my officer, “I’m with you,” then catching up on the night’s events as the sun breaks the horizon and a new day begins.
It’s the mundane things I miss, almost as much as the fires and rescues. The routine, familiar things that made up my days on duty; the 0800 time signal, housework, washing the truck, checking the equipment, starting the generators and saws, fuelling up, district inspections and yes, even drilling.
There is an ebb and flow in the fire service; routine interrupted by chaos. The chaos gets the glory, but the routine keeps us sane. There is something timeless about that, the firefighters come and go, vehicles get replaced, but the spirit of the station never changes.
Yeah, I miss it, but every day I am grateful that I am aware it exists, and I was once a part of it.