An Oklahoma Firefighter Spills To His Home School Teacher ll


Last time, I posted part one of an interview with my firstborn son and home school pupil who happens also to be a firefighter, which you can read in An Oklahoma Firefighter Spills To His Homeschool Teacher. Today, we’ll continue where we left off.

Danni: What is one of the benefits to being a firefighter?

Son #1: Well, I get to help people during the worst day of their lives sometimes.

Danni: What is the biggest drawback?

#1: The sacrifice my family makes because of my schedule. (He’s on duty 48 hours, off duty 48 hours, even if that falls on holidays and weekends.)

Danni: You told me last week one of the things you enjoyed most was teaching the youngsters about fire safety as your alter-ego, Ducky, the clown. What is one of the things you like the least?

#1: Stopping natural gas leaks.

Danni: What are some of the dumb things people do to start fires?

#1: Use pennies in their fuse panels and aluminum foil in the microwave, stuff like that. Usually alcohol is involved in dumb fires.

Danni: My opinion of arsonists is very low. What is yours?

#1: Scoundrels.

Danni: What is your advice to arsonists?

#1: Don’t get caught.


#1’s kids, Roper and Ladybug, giving the guided tour

Danni: Would you want your kids to become firefighters?

#1: (grins) Maybe Ladybug. She’s pretty tough.

Danni: (laughs, but is secretly praying #1 is not serious) Indeed, she is. Okay…I know you firefighter types are trained in all kinds of stuff. What is some of it?

#1: Basic CPR and first aid. Also operating the Jaws, conducting fire drills in the schools from head start to high school, rescue diving.

(Jaws Of Life cuts people out of wreckage)

Danni: All the firefighters donate a lot of time to causes and the community. What are some of the causes?

#1: Toy drive for the kids at Christmas, teaching fire prevention in the schools, raising money for the MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association) and Relay for Life.

The firefighters’ ipad

Danni: I know you had to pass Firefighter l and now you’re almost certified to teach that yourself, but what are some of the qualifications firefighters must meet to get on the force?

#1: (grins) You have to be handsome and studly.

Danni: (rolls her eyes) Oh, brother.

#1: Well…You have to pass a physical and stress test. Some agility requirements.


The full-time firefighters’ gear. #1’s is the slot with wrong way sign upside down above it. I don’t know what it means.

Danni: Y’alls bunker gear is heavy. How much does it weigh by the time you’re all suited up?

#1: About fifty pounds with our SCBAs. (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus, which has an air tank)

Danni: Will your bunker gear burn?

#1: It’s made of heat resistant material, but it’ll burn if it gets hot enough.

Danni: The nineteen firefighters who died in the Yarnell Hill Fire tragedy in Arizona this summer deployed their personal fire shelters to no avail. Do y’all carry those? (The fire shelters are aluminum, silica, and fiberglass tubes to crawl inside which deflect radiant heat, convective heat, and embers, as well as trap breathable air.)

#1: On the grass trucks. (The trucks used to fight grass fires in the country.)

Danni: What are the most dangerous kinds of fires you go out on?

#1: Any fire involving petroleum fuel.

Danni: What types of fires do you mostly attend?

#1: Grass fires and gas meters.


The volunteer firefighters’ gear

Danni: Our rural fire departments rely heavily on volunteer firefighters. In fact, Oklahoma State Fire Marshall, Robert Doke was on the radio a few days ago saying seventy-five percent of all fire departments in Oklahoma are manned by volunteers. Does this fire department have trouble getting enough volunteers?

#1: It goes in spurts. Sometimes we have plenty, sometimes not enough. Right now, our roster is nearly full.

Danni: What do you see as some of the biggest needs for our rural fire departments?

#1: More money for salaries and equipment.


The firefighters’ bunks


Ladybug and Roper in the kitchen area

Danni: I’ve heard the fire station is haunted. I could almost believe it when we toured the deserted living quarters on the second floor a few years ago. Is that creepy CPR dummy still up there?

#1: (grins) Probably.

Danni: Do you think the station is haunted?

#1: No. I hear some strange noises, but I think people say the station’s haunted because the building used to be a funeral home. And there’s a gravestone in it, too.


Charlie, the only unclaimed body from the Babbs Switch school fire, a local tragedy.

#1: There’s a blood drain in the kitchen floor.

Danni: (growing pale) No, there’s not, either.

But, yes…


Blood drain plug from the old funeral home.

Danni: Well, that’s just too gross. Moving on. Have you ever rescued an old lady’s kitten from a tree, and if so, did you use the ladder truck?

#1: (grins) Actually, yes, I’ve rescued a cat, but I had to go home and get my own ladder.

Danni: Do you have a firefighter’s joke to end with?

#1: Sure. There’s this firefighter that needs brain surgery, so his buddies search around for used brains. The first ones they find are from a firefighter for $10,000. The brains aren’t a bad match, but they decide to keep looking.

The next brains are from a captain. These brains are a pretty good match, too, but they’re $50,000, so they keep looking.

Finally, they find some fire chief’s brains, but they’re $100,000 bucks!

Somebody asks, “Good grief, how come the fire chief’s brains cost so much more than the firefighter’s?”

“Because the fire chief’s brains have barely been been used!” is the reply.

(Sorry, Chief Lankford. Please don’t fire #1.)

Danni: Oh, hee hee, my goodness. Well, thank you so much, #1, for the excellent interview and the service you provide the community. I deeply appreciate all you firefighters out there. God bless and keep all y’all safe.

Learn more about volunteering as a firefighter in Oklahoma by calling 1-800-FireLine.

*Any mistakes in this interview are mine alone. My cryptic notes written in my chicken scratch handwriting baffle even me.

Until next time, God bless and enjoy Legacy Five tearin’ up Joy, one of my all-time favorites.


*These artists don’t necessarily endorse my blog, I just love ‘em.

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An Oklahoma Firefighter Spills To His Home School Teacher


This week I caught up with Son #1 at the fire station where he is one of five full-time firefighters. Since #1 was celebrating his birthday, Gramps and I shared a pan of cinnamon rolls with him, our daughter-in-law, and his two children while we talked about firefighting and rural fire departments.

Son #1 grew up on the farm and like most farm kids his talents are many and varied.

  • He drove a pickup (stick shift) at age seven, restrained animals of different species for his home school teacher during operations to separate them from tails, horns, hooves, or–in the case of male animals–their “junk”. He also competed in a few jr. rodeos,  goat tying,  barrel racing, and mutton bustin’. (As his son, Roper, did in this post–Mutton Bustin’ In SW Oklahoma.
  • He burned up his first tractor motor when he was about age twelve, rode his bike three miles before daylight all summer to work for a crop duster (aerial crop sprayer), and drove a two-ton truck hauling corn silage for a neighboring farmer.
  • At age sixteen, he bashed in his first pickup chasing a crazy steer, worked at night all summer baling hay, and often spent twelve or more hours plowing with four-wheel-drive tractors (the big ones).
  • At eighteen he graduated from his grim-faced, squinty-eyed, and frazzled home school teacher’s class as her most difficult student. However, his grades were good enough to launch him off to college in Kansas. He worked his way through school, earning a degree in the John Deere program at Garden City. At some point he sold his cow herd, bought a house, and came back from college to live in it as a full-fledged ag mechanic specializing in combines.
  • At present, he operates his own mechanic shop and works as a full-time firefighter on a 48 hours on duty, 48 hours off duty schedule. He’s active in his church, a good dad and husband, and he’s nice to his old home school teacher.


Danni: So, why did you decide to become a firefighter?

#1: Felt like that was what God wanted me to do.

Danni: What is the first fire you remember fighting?

#1: The canoe fire.

(When he was six or seven he read a story about Indians burning the centers out of logs to make canoes. He found a log and a can of gas. You might be able to guess the rest. The incident could have been even worse if Gramps hadn’t arrived on the scene with a fire extinguisher when he did.)

Danni: How old were you when you joined the volunteer fire department where you grew up?

#1: You have to be eighteen, so…eighteen.

Danni: Why did you join?

#1: Seems like I was always the first one at the fires.

(We have big sky here in western Oklahoma and if there’s a smoke for miles around it’s clearly visible. Anyone who happens to be in a field nearby drives over to see what’s burning and call it in to the nearest fire department if needs be. Also, #1 was there first because many of the fires were his own farm accidents. I’m just sayin’.)

Danni: You were a volunteer for about five-an-a-half years and now a full-time firefighter for the past seven-and-a-half years…what do you like most about your job?

#1: Having the school kids here at the station to see the trucks and learn fire safety.

Danni: You have an alter-ego who is a clown named “Ducky”.  I have seen Ducky in his rubber ducky pants, his face paint, and his wild red wig. He seemed sinister to me. Does he ever scare the kids?

#1: (grins) Sometimes.

via wizzley

via wizzley

(The fear of clowns is called coulrophobia. Hey. It’s real. And real scary.)

Danni: What are some of the things Ducky and his firefighter friends teach the kids?

#1: Know how to dial 911, know their addresses, keep batteries in their homes’ smoke detectors, stop, drop, and roll, and get out, stay out. Stuff like that.

Danni: There is a lot more to the firefighter’s job description than fighting fire. What are some of your other duties?

#1: Vehicle extraction with the Jaws Of Life, body recovery for the OHP (Oklahoma Highway Patrol) and OSBI (Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation,) preserving the scenes of accidents or fires for law enforcement, search and rescue, rescue diving, storm spotting for tornados during severe weather, disaster aid, and welfare checks during disasters.

Danni: You also act as the department’s chaplain. Are you called into service much in that capacity?

#1: Not really. It mostly entails debriefing and sometimes if we’ve worked a tragedy somebody just needs to talk.

Danni:  I know you firefighters see some pretty gory sights. Do y’all get desensitized to such things?

#1: I guess so. We kinda have to. Sometimes we have to be careful because we are used to it all and joke around about stuff that others…the families…find offensive.

Danni: What makes firefighters run into danger while everybody else is running out?

#1: (grins) Low IQs.

Since this interview was too long for one blog post–and too interesting to skip–I’ll try to finish it next time.

And Happy Birthday, dear #1!


Your home school teacher

Until next time, thanks for reading. God bless all y’all and enjoy Third Day doing God of Wonders.


*These artists don’t necessarily endorse my blog, I just like ‘em.

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