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No fire? Firemen still stay busy

Throughout the day at a fire station there is a sense of anxiety.

Anxiety for the alarm that may or may not come.

“The world doesn’t revolve around our day,” said Selma Fire Chief Michael Stokes. “We have to revolve around the world’s day.”

Shifts at Selma fire stations are 24 hours long.

So what do they do when they are at the fire station without a fire?

They work.

Stokes said people who thought firefighters did nothing during their time at the station couldn’t be further from the truth.

“You have to think,” said firefighter Kenneth Blair. “This building is in use 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There is always something that needs done. There isn’t a time that you can sit down and think that I have everything done.”

Shifts begin at 6:45 a.m. with a debriefing time between the incoming and outgoing shifts about the day before.

After the briefing, duties are handed out to all the firefighters.

After daily duties are handed out, the firefighters begin checking equipment, cleaning the fire station, and performing other duties.

“Every morning I know it is my duty to check off two trucks,” said engineer Willie Harris. “If something is not there or not working, then everyone will be looking at me. You have to check every piece of equipment because you never know if, when you get that call, you will need that tool.”

Firefighters also use their time at the station for training.

“We have training that we do mandatory for two hours each day,” said fire Capt. Chris Horton. “In addition to that, if a firefighter knows that he is weak at something, we use the extra time to get better.”

But it isn’t just all work and no play.

Firefighters sit and laugh, as well as play practical jokes on one another.

“These guys see each other more than they see their own families,” said Stokes. “Because of that you will have the same type problems that brothers and sisters have. One way to relieve that stress is by telling or playing a joke on somebody.”

“Think about high school,” said Blair. “In high school, you went to class and had breaks in between class. During those breaks were you marching to the next class? No, you were goofing off. We are like that.”

But the firefighters know that when the alarm goes off, the time for play stops, because that is what a firefighter’s day revolves around, the next call.