So...bit of a crazy past week.
Every morning for the past month I’ve woken up and immediately grabbed my phone to check for an e-mail or alerts from Indeed’s job board. I would scroll through automated e-mails informing me of job opportunities nearby, looking for something that might pique my interest.
There were many advertised vacancies, but I didn’t want to go back to retail or customer service. I wanted to do something new, something fun and engaging that I could become passionate about. I had stopped riding to allow myself to explore other interests. I refused to fill this newfound time on something that’s meaningless to me. The lack of inspiring opportunities fed my apathy .
Finally, on the morning of May 3rd, I saw on Indeed a Wildfire Fire Fighting position. I sent in my resume and a cover letter that conformed to their 7 question cover letter format. Later that day 'Fire First Recruitment' approved my application and I was then allowed to apply to Strategic Wildfire, the company that had the openings. Three days later, I was invited to their recruitment day which would take place in Campbell River the following Saturday, May 13th.
The invitation included a small description of the fitness test candidates would have to pass. The first portion was a 4.8 km walk to be done in less than 45 minutes with a 45 pound pack on your back. The second part was a relay consisting of: a 100 metre carry of a 50 pound pump followed by a 300 metre run with the 45 pound pack and a 200 metre drag of a charged hose. The second and third legs were to be completed in a combined time under four minutes and ten seconds.
The fitness test had me nervous, as I know I’m nowhere near as fit as I have been for the past few years. I decided to see if I could do the walk, and mapped out a 5.2 km route down to the ocean and then back up. I filled a pack with a 10 kg bag of flour, my cast iron skillet, and my Dutch oven. The pack was ~50 pounds. I wanted to go a little further to ensure that the test day would be easier. I managed the walk in 40:05.
Once I knew that I could do the walk, I grew nervous for the second part. I can’t carry much weight at my best. After giving myself two days to recover from the walk (my legs, glutes and shoulders were killing me) I decided to run it. My theory was that if I could smash the walk, it would be okay if I lagged behind a little in the second portion of the test. I ran it in 28:40 with the pack, and was pretty content. I assumed that unlike my route, the test wouldn’t have 2 km of climbing, which would make it a lot easier.
Recruitment day went well. I was up at 4 am and on the road by 4:45 to arrive early for the 8:30 start. The staff all seemed like great people to work with/for, and the other recruits were all really nice and easy to get along with. I was disappointed to learn that you had to walk the walk (go figure) as it was to imitate an evacuation. It’s much easier to run. However, I was still the fastest finisher for both parts of the test.
At the end of the day I was told about a course at North Island College in Campbell River that I would be eligible for. The course started on Monday, the 15th- in just two days’ time.
I drove home and arrived around six in the evening, and informed Bryanna and Dad about the course at NIC that I wanted to take part in. I e-mailed the person in charge to see if there was space. Late Sunday morning I was accepted, and then only had a few hours to get my shit together, and try and find a place to stay.
On Monday I was up at 4 again and on the road by 4:40. I arrived 45 minutes before class, and had no idea what my schedule looked like, what class I was taking, what classroom I would be in, and how many days each class was. Or even where I might be staying. I registered for the course 5 minutes before class started.
This course will give me multiple levels of first aid certifications, power saw certifications, and many other firefighting certifications. I found out on Tuesday that I got the job, and in a month’s time when the course ends, I’ll expect to be called-up for deployment. After the NIC course, I’ll be doing basic training before I’m ready to work.
The past several days have been very stressful and only now am I beginning to feel settled and less anxious. Having so much happening so suddenly, after a period of inactivity, with so many unknowns is not usually how I function. I’m a very organized and forward planning person- I tend to leave little to chance. In this new adventure, I didn’t have time to do revert to past habits where I equivocate and feel ambivalent- going back and forth between wanting to do something and then fearing doing it and the associated commitment. In this instance, I was forced to make a decision very quickly, and although I questioned it, I told myself to just do what I want for once. So here I am.
Being a firefighter is the only thing other than cycling that I’ve thought about doing. I want to use my physical ability for something good. I want to be able to help and protect people, and have an adventurous job that demands fitness. In the time that I take off the bike, I’ll now be able to explore another interest. It feels pretty good.
Although I already feel lonely in Campbell River, and still quite uneasy, I’m glad that I’m doing this. I need to push my boundaries and do something. I can’t punish myself for taking time off the bike. I need to reward myself and take advantage of the opportunity that I’ve been given. Although this is tough, I’m trying not to question whether I SHOULD be doing this, because I know that right now, I WANT to do this. I’m not bound by the bike.