Firefighters, the Four Elements, and Lap Pools.
On Monday I went to the Wichita Swim Club to catch a swim. I walked into the club only to be greeted by a horde of dudes. Big fellas. Not, I might say, your average size and shape for everyday lap swimmers. I must’ve looked befuddled because one of them said, energetically, “Hi! How ya’ doin’?” “Fine! Thank you,” I answered.
As I looked around I saw smatterings of equipment when it occurred to me that this was a firehouse and these were members of the Wichita Fire Department. I regret, now, that I did not ask them for what they were training. Were they learning search and rescue? We’re they conditioning? Were they doing physical training? Alas, I did not ask and am left only to wonder. I swam on the other side of the pool. I could not help, though, looking underwater to see several of these fellows sitting on the bottom of the pool. When I left—and they had all left too—I saw sopping wet kettle balls by the exit. I wager the used these to hold themselves in the deep. Nevertheless, the whole experience—and I must add these dudes were super kind, polite—turned me thinking about firemen in general.
It’s interesting we call them “firemen” or, perhaps more apt, “firefighters”. When I thought about what they do it occurred to me that “firefighter” is rather limited in scope. Think about it: They rush into burning buildings (earth) with air strapped to their backs (wind) to dampen fire (fire) with water (water). So, really, they master all four elements. Further, they’re trained to confront all elements. Firefighters are first on the scene, meaning they get the first call to assess the situation and determine the safest course of action.
When I realized our firefighters do more than fight fires (and I feel like we all know this, rescuing cats and such)—they carry with them an operational knowledge of the elements—my respect and gratitude for them grew beyond. And, like you, my respect for them sat at the apex of heroism.