I am drawn here, like a moth to light. In the days of my professional youth, we would hit the gate and the apprehension would rise in my gut like a bad pizza. The thought of what was coming and the memory of the last session, combined to both cloud and intensify the focus needed to get through the next several hours.
As an engineer, it was with some amusement I watched the reactions of the rookies as we entered the gate. Although we approached the session as a team, it was really between the rookie and the captain to work together and make a functional firefighter out of a recruit. My job was to facilitate the effort and assist the captain in his endeavor.
As a captain, I made it my responsibility to give each recruit every opportunity to succeed. On occasion, the apprehension would again rise, especially when the recruit was struggling. When one of my recruits failed to meet probationary standards, I took it seriously, making sure it wasn't me who was failing the recruit, but only the recruit failing to meet standards. Entering the gates with someone who was struggling was tough, each time hoping that the recruit was turning things around and that their career could be saved.
As I will not be responsible for the training of another new firefighter before I leave, I am now drawn to the academy only document the efforts of other crews and recruits. I find the industrial starkness of the training buildings and the physicality of the evolutions visually interesting.
I try to find out in advance if someone present is struggling. If someone is in danger of not succeeding, I avoid taking their picture. They don't need the added pressure, I don't need to have the images subpoenaed should someone's failure end in litigation.
Like a moth to light, I am still drawn here, except that now there is no threat of being burned by the light. The light provides only comfort and illumination for my camera.
Thanks for reading,