Thursday, April 21, 2011


I just can't believe the amount of change that occurs in one man's lifetime. I looked back in the archive of the Basegasket Blog and stared in awe. From "Sea of People, Ebb and Flow", I see a young man graduating from High School, not a care in the world. Now, just a few years later, struggles with life's big decisions, school, travels, a grown man does.

In "Sweet Sixteen", I see a young girl with all her needs fulfilled. Today, she deals with a broken-down 4 runner and no ride home. Home? Home will always be home, the home in the Gulfwood SD. Even home has changed, she has her own home now. A cute little apartment just off the UTC campus.

"End of an Era", meant the beginning of another, for my youngest. From bats, balls and bases to Fender, Fuchs and feedback. He doesn't show it now, but I think he's planning some changes as well.

I've posted many times about my motorcycle. Well, it's gone too. As a result of changes in other peoples lives around me, it caused changes in my life. That old bike was a big part of my world for 10 years. I remember wanting and waiting for it.

I used to think keeping a blog was very important. I thought it was imperative that someone make record of this wonderful life. With no post from me in a year, you would think I changed my mind about that too. Not true, I still do. I guess I just got caught in the spin of this ever changing life.

Today I have a new goal. It's a difficult target, but do-able. And no, it's not 1/10 scale.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Are You Ready?

Does the spare tire in your trunk have enough air in it? If your heat and AC went kaput, would you have enough money in your budget to cover replacing it? If your boss asked you to step up to the plate for him in a fashion not familiar to you, would you be up for the challenge? It's time each of us asked ourselves, "Am I ready?".

I hear many people talk about stress these days. There are so many situations and pressures that cause stressors in our lives. We usually think of stressors as being negative, like a sudden death of a loved one or a rocky relationship.

However, positive events such as getting married, buying a house, school, or getting a promotion can cause stress as well. So with that in mind you could say what causes stress depends, at least in part, on your preparation for it. Something that's stressful to you may not faze someone else; simply because they have prepared for it. For example, your morning commute may make you anxious and tense because you worry that traffic will make you late. Others, however, may find the trip relaxing because they allow more than enough time and enjoy listening to music while they drive. Simple.

Being a firefighter, my job is to be ready, and I mean ready for anything. In any given moment I could be thrust into one of a million scenarios. Many of these can be very dangerous and even deadly. I'll be the first to admit that I can get lazy at times and not practice some of my firefighting skills, but if I see a guy outside a burning building fumbling with his gear because he has it on backwards, it's time to re-examine one's self.

I'm not going belabor this topic too long because we have been told to "be prepared" since the Cub Scouts. What I'm going to do is look at my life and its surroundings. I'll be looking for that monkey wrench that's about to fall into the works and just mess things up. Now one could get stressed out looking for cracks in the dam, and I have been guilty of that in the past, but my hope is to simply take a closer look into potential stress causing areas of my life, and make any adjustments. The result... hopefully a less stressful and serene lifestyle.

Won't you join me?

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I guess it started back in 1872. A famous spot called Speakers' Corner located in Hyde Park, England. The ones who were word-worthy and brave enough to face old English hecklers, stepped up on the soapbox, (yes, a small wooden box that soap was shipped in) and with the confidence of a seasoned preacher... spoke.

To this day men and women alike profess their beliefs to passers-by on that very same corner. I'm sure many views were heard there, and I'm sure some were noteworthy and I'm sure some were pompous. (Pompous... I just like saying that word... Pompous!) Pompous or not, it wasn't always easy to exercise your right to free speech.

From the early 1900's up to the 60's many fought to protect or reclaim their right to soapboxing. Some passionate protesters even lost their lives for the right to step up on that little wooden platform.

So, here we are today, where we can simply log on to the cyber-soapbox; be it a blog like this one, or a social networking device like Facebook, Myspace or Twitter, (I still don't get twitter, maybe someday...) What freedoms we share in this wonderful age of limitlessness and communication. Well, wonderful to a point.

Facebook... I love Facebook. What a great time I have had contacting old friends and family. To be able to chat with a high school buddy and watch how people carefully choose the profile picture as not to expose the 40 pounds gained since commencement. I like being able to share with people what my day was like and how excited I get when my team had a good weekend. I love to banter with my co-workers about firehouse life on my Facebook wall, or make plans to ride on weekends.

The Facebook wall is simple, but too often people don't understand it's concept. It starts with "whats on your mind..." or "write something..." then ends with "make a comment." For some, it seems that my wall, is their soapbox. Well its not. That's why it is called, "my wall". Please reserve your soapboxing for your own wall. Or even better, find a medium such as this one. Google's Blogger is the home of many fearless modern day cyber soapboxers. Here you can have your own journal of passionate thoughts that flop around your head, and when one of the thoughts puffs out of your brain, blogger is a good place for it to land.

One word of caution goes out to some; if you post something on your blog it should stay there. After all, this is a journal... your formidable soapbox. In the old days when a man got up on Speakers' Corner and proved to the world that he was a friggin idiot, the damage was done. So be careful what you say... always. You see, here as well as in old England, your comment doesn't fall off the bottom of my wall, and unless you delete it, what you write is how people will form their opinion of you... forever.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Old Kentucky Road

My apoligies to all my faithful readers, all 12 or so. It must be discouraging to check back to the basegasket blog for 4 months in a row to find no activity here. I often run across topics and ideas to blog about in light of recent political and social issues that all us Americans have been exposed to. In the process of taking what thoughts that ramble around in my head and converting them into something that can be posted here, I find I'm not able to accomplish that without sounding like a raging right wing lunatic. Frankly, recent news reports and political activity has just got my goat. So, as not to sound like a angry young man, like the one Billy Joel sings about, and save whats left of my goat herd, I resolve myself to stick to Facebooking and Craigslisting leaving the BG blog idol on the world wide web.

Alas, morning has broken.

A recent motorcycle trip has brought a new prospective to this Yankee turned West Knoxvillian. A four day trip with some brothers from the department and friends. A refreshing tour through blue grass bordered Old Kentucky Roads.

Six old bikers all riding American Iron in search of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail (and possibly a sample of that White Dog), heading north for the border with clear skies and cool morning air.

On the second day we passed through Versailles, KY. just north from there on Route 60, we hung a left off the beaten path on to three board fence -lined roads. The lush grass, frolicking horses, and majestic hilltop mansions along the road led us to the Woodford Reserve. Pulling into the parking lot you could smell the sour mash in the air. You just knew this place was special. It is the home of Kentucky's finest bourbon.

That afternoon we toured the Maker's Mark Distillery where the operation was a bit bigger, but family values and southern pride have kept quality whiskey flowing since the end of prohibition. At the end of the tour we were able to sample their whiskey before aging (known as White Dog) and after aging, when it gains its amber color. A small bottle sits on the shelf at my house with its familiar red wax dipped top, which I was able to dip myself at the visitor center.

Our 3rd day drove us south back into Tennessee, not before getting soaked by a pop-up T-storm. After donning our rain gear we rode for less than an hour before having to doff our rain gear. Luckily that would be the only rain we would get on the trip. We stopped in Murfreesboro for the night and dinner at Demo's. (Good choice, Dennis)

Day 4 found us south of Nashville to Lynchburg and a tour of the Jack Daniel's Distillery. To my surprise, old #7 is located in a dry county. No samples, so we left. Heading west for home we picked up Rt 30 over Cumberland Plateau, winding down into the Squatchie Valley, back over Walden Ridge across Watts Barr lake and straight up the Tennessee Valley back to Knoxville.

All-in-all I was overdue for a ride in the country. It has settled me down just a bit, and brought a prospective I haven't seen in awhile. Now don't worry, I won't be getting all mushy on you all. If you catch me at the right time, I'll be sitting in the porch sharpening my pitch fork, soaking my torch and sipping some good Kentucky Bourbon.

Care to join me?

Saturday, February 14, 2009


I followed my driver into the apartment looking for the victim. A quick glance across the room down the hallway to the bedroom. He lay on the floor about a foot from the edge of the bed. My partner didn't need but a second to tell his condition. Experience had clued him in and it was obvious to him the poor lad was expired. The medic came into the room and, even quicker arrived at the same conclusion as she uttered the words, "Oh my."

Back in the academy amidst all the learning and banter, we had discussed some of the seedier details of the job. Dead bodies, deformed from car crashes, blood and guts all over the place. They made it sound like these scenes we would pull up on would be part of a normal days activities. Get on scene, do the job, clean up, get back to the house, and eat lunch... Back to reality please.

By now the tragic news has made to the next of kin. Girlfriend, friends, Mom and Dad, brothers and sisters dealing with this heavy loss. Coroner arranging an autopsy and most likely funeral arrangements are underway. The questions start to arise, most of them beginning with "why?" Life goes on for those left behind, only now with an empty place filled with personal belongings, pictures and even possibly the scent of cologne on a pillow case.

During my EMT training I remember making light of the acronym DRT. One of my instructors made a comment: "I walked into the room and there he was, DRT...Dead Right There..." We would all giggle a bit. Not on the content of the comment, that would be sick. It must have been the presentation, you know every comedian agrees it's the timing that makes a joke funny. Oh and I forgot to mention, we made it part of our vocabulary, each trying to enter this lament into a conversation with perfect timing as to score a laugh. Fun?

I'm not getting down on anyone. I know we all handle stressful situations differently, but I personally find it hard (in light of today's events) to make small of such a tragic event. This career I chose has some pretty dark moments, and despite all the glitz and glamour of being a firefighter, I found myself standing at the feet of a corpse. Nothing I could do for him. No chance of being a hero today. Just turn around and head back to the truck.

I dont think I will use the acronym "DRT" anymore. It just doesn't set well with me. It is now just a reminder of a bad day at work, one of many that will come before I retire.

In our line of work, some radio transmissions include codes. Plain text is preferred now-a-days, but occasionally the need for a code is better suited. As the police arrived on this morning's scene, the words "code seventy-three" sounded between all personnel in the room. Enough said to cue everybody in on what was going on there... No LOL, no Ha Ha, no smiley face.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Relic Master

It could be a blessing in disguise, but none of my children are very mechanically inclined. They all have their individual talents, and I thank God for that, but they have not ever spent much time out in the shop, a place where I've made a living for most of my working life. I say "a blessing in disguise" because all I have to show for being able to work with my hands is a fair to midland income and a sore back. I'm pretty sure I would like my offspring to do a bit better than me.

With all that said, it does make me pretty proud when they occasionally pick up a tool to concoct a space saving shelf for their school lockers. After all, the ability to build shelter, make a tool, or create something with raw material is part of man's basic survival instinct and all of us should practice it.

It seems the apple hasn't fallen too far from the tree with my youngest. He asked me to help him with a project involving his old electric guitar. He saw some examples of guitars that were distressed to look old and worn and wanted to relic his Epiphone. He told me what he wanted done and I showed him how to use some tools that would help him complete his project. He watched. Gradually he took over his project and completed it with such success that some of his friends wanted him to do the same for their old Fender Squires.

I was at the fire hall the next day when I received a text from Joe... "Where is the sander?". Puzzled, I replied; "Why?". After several other texts helping him to find various tools and sundries, a fear came over me when I realized he was in my shop... alone... with power tools. I was pleased when I came home the next morning not only to find him with all his digits still attached but a very cleverly antiquated electric guitar leaning against the couch.
So now the word is out and the relic master has set up his custom shop in my garage. He has just completed his third relic and I hope he continues to develop his skills and working with his hands. Whether or not he should make a career doing such things...well let's just say the jury is still out.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

End of an Era

"Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet..." The GM giant submitted this little ditty back in 1975. The jury is still out on the nutritional value of the wiener, and with the big three bail-out debacle, I don't think Rick Wagoner will be on anybody's Christmas list this year. As for baseball, it has always been a staple in the Stoehr house.

For almost 15 years of everything from teeball to Varsity coaching, the end of and era has come. My youngest announced last week he was retiring from the game. In an effort to pursue better grades and his love of music, he will hang up the spuds and gloves.

This news came with a barrage of mixed emotions for me. The first of which was, thank God it's over. We have worn out vehicles driving to and from practices and games, spent hundreds of dollars on equipment, tournament fees, uniforms, coach gifts and sunflower seeds. Parents spent what seemed to be every summer weekend at tournaments and all we came home with was sunburn and dehydration.

The true reality of this decision came to me later in that day. I actually had to choke back a tear. Thinking about seeing your kid all decked out in his jersey and funny socks...parents wait (some longer than others) for weeks for the moment their little star makes that amazing catch, or drives an inside pitch over the left field wall to end a game, just to utter those words..."That's my boy!". I'm going to miss that.

If you go back and read past entries in the Basegasket Blog you will find a pattern to some of my archives written. It seems the changes that come from a child changing from child to adult, cut me to the quick at times. We have encountered many challenges and changes as our babies mature, but one thing has always proven itself time and time again; they still continue to amaze us. Even though they are not on a diamond shaped field anymore, our babies continue to provoke us to utter those words... "That's my girl!"... "That's my boy!". What more can one ask for?

Maybe I will continue to attend baseball games and watch my Yanks on TV. I might still fall victim to the hotdog cart outside the west town Home Depot again. Maybe someday I'll drive one of Rick's electric cars. Who knows what will happen next in this crazy world...? Well one thing I do know will happen; I will eat Mama's apple pie again. Hold the cheese please.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


So many changes we have experienced since becoming southerners about 2 years ago. The ideals, the food, the lingo. It has been rather entertaining to say the least. How different two communities can be, yet separated by an mere 755 miles. Since we decided to throw in the Western NY towel and move to Knoxville, we came with a open mind and prepared to adopt some of the culture.

The process has been easy, mainly because I think we are southerners at heart. The people I have associated with have sensed that I came here to adopt a new way of life and not bring a northern flair to a place that doesn't need it. The whole process of this social permutation has been very comfortable and easy to undertake.... well almost.

Smokeless Tobacco.

Chew, snuff, dip or whatever you want to call it. It's everywhere! We had it back in WNY, but down here everyone does it or at least has tried it, even the girls! It wouldn't be so bad for me if the dipper could just swallow their own saliva like the rest of us do, but they seem to find some value in their brown and yellow slime and collect it in some makeshift spittoon like a Wishbones Styrofoam cup. Oh and might I remind you... the cup holder on the dash of your F-150 is not intended to support a 10lb brass spittoon or anything that resembles a spittoon.

It all started when I was riding with Parkey in the Facilities Department. We had been together for about a week when he asked me if I would mind if he put a chew in (I don't know why its called that because they don't actually chew anything.) Being the good guy I said sure go ahead. Little did I know that Parkey also had an affinity for his spit and proceeded to collect it for 3 days. I hunkered in the corner of the cab of that truck pressed up against the door with visions of that cup of slime splashing all over me in the event of a collision, or even worse I would mistakenly grab Parkey's cup thinking I was about to drink my sweet tea and suck down his mixture of coffee grounds and bile. Yuk! I'm gagging just writing about it. I asked him not to do it anymore... He said OK. Just some more of that southern kindness.

Everyday I go to the Academy and we go through our daily activites of classroom sessions and practical exercises. We find ourselves taking a break every hour or so. Outside we go to commiserate about the material discussed. As the smokless tobacco users get there little tins out and slap the lid with that curious jerk of the wrist, its not seconds until the spitting commences. Within minutes the blobs of slick are surrounding me. One day I dropped a new Ticonderoga pencil from my ear and it rolled into a blob stopping it dead in its tracks. The Ticon pencil is the best in the world and I love them but... its still there, stuck now that the spit has dried.

OK so I got issues, I know that, but when a grown man wraps course cut Red Man in sour apple bubble gum in a wad the size of a golf ball and sticks it between his cheek and gum. That's just... blah!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Saucy Courage

I saw the most impressive display of courage this week. The leadership at the fire academy had a bit of a schedule change for us.We were supposed to sit thru a 6 hour lecture on forceable entry; oh how fun! Instead we plunged (no pun intended) into the exciting world of rappelling.

Not being a big fan of heights in my latter years, I was not very enthused about climbing out a 5th story window teathered to a piece of rope. When asked if there was anyone in the group who was not thrilled about the whole rappelling idea, I quickly rose to the occasion and moved to the crowd of beginners and cowards.

I hid behind my camera taking shots of my fellow classmates as they, one by one, awkwardly climbed out the window and scaled down the side of the tower. As the group of next -in- liners got smaller, the anxiety and impending fall to our death became evident on all our faces. Fear had overcome and our expressions showed that fear.

I did not want to be the last one to go out, so I volunteered fourth from last. It was hard for me to make that move over the ledge, and not wanting to display to those below my angst, I quickly moved to the outside. Not 5 seconds after my weight was on the rope I felt a rush of confidence. my fear was gone and I zipped down the wall like a pro. (except for that harness... permanent damage to the twig and berries.)

I rushed back up the tower to continue shooting pictures as the next victim was hooked up. With some hesitation they made it out and down to the pavement.

As the last contestant of the day moved toward the window, his eyes looked glazed and his color was off. His posture showed the battle going on inside his body. Sitting on the window sill he slowly, slowly, won that battle and out the window he went.

That day my fellow classmate and friend would have done any other task in the world other than go out that window. That was not an option for him. He had to do it.

Courage is the ability to confront fear, pain, risk, danger, uncertainty or intimidation. Each time a person faces those obstacles and overcomes them, their fortitude increases. My friend, a man of stature, a paramedic, and firefighter to the core, faced his biggest fear and beat it with a stick.

Good for him and all those who follow him... onto accident scenes and into burning buildings.
He has proven to me, through his display of courage that day, of what a gallant leader he makes, and this is one recruit that would follow him, only hoping for some of that intrepidity to rub off on me.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

I bought my bike back in 2001. I hooked up with a pretty active riding group right from the start. Webb, Shipley, Fox, Erin and Babbs, just to name a few. Needless to say I rode a lot. Some riding seasons as much as 5000 miles! That's pretty good considering the short Western NY summers, and it makes for a happy Basegasket too!
Moving to East Tennessee brought many changes for our family as I have told you here in past blog entries. All the changes have been positive and good for all of us. Well, almost all.
Leaving behind my biker gang has found my hog sitting in my E. Tennessee garage collecting dust with half the air in the tires... pitiful! Something had to be done. Hmmm... Road trip anyone?
My WNY/riding buddy Webb, brings his son to the NASA Space Camp each summer down in Huntsville. This year he trailered his bike down and we had a chance to ride a bit.
A high pressure system settled in last week and hung around for the weekend making the weather absolutely awesome. The desire to leave early Saturday morning fell by the wayside (just got lazy) and we rolled out of the Gulfwood Subdivision about 10.
North toward the Cumberland Gap and the tunnel on Route 25. We climbed to the top of Pinnacle Point for some photos.

One foot in VA one foot in KY
A small jaunt across VA Route 58 to Jonesville and then south along the Trail of the Lonesome Pine across Tennessee, continuing south to Asheville for the night. After a good nights sleep we headed west thru Maggie Valley, Bryson City and Robbinsville along the south side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. After a fill-up we climbed up to 5200 ft along the Cherohala Skyway. Fifty-one miles of great scenery and twisties. Heading north toward Knoxville brought our trip to an end clocking 465 miles for the weekend.
The Academy has been very exhausting to say the least. With all the material we covered in the EMS training, the physical exercise and running, and now the fire training, I have been physically and mentally taxed. With that said, as I was rolling down NC state Route 19 I really felt the medicinal qualities of the journey heal my body and my soul. Our weekend ride was long overdue, sorely missed, and a nice change from my recent dysphoric condition.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Evaluation Time- Week 5

Wikipedia says to "evaluate" is "to display the systematic determination of merit, worth, and significance of something or someone". For the recruits of the Knoxville Fire Department we get to experience that event every month of our 6 month tour.

We were instructed to meet with our preselected evaluator right after our afternoon clean-up duties. As I waited in the hall, I could not recall ever being evaluated in my work career. Being self-employed for almost 25 years, evaluation was simple for me. If my customers didn't like how I performed for them, they would show their disapproval by not paying me (thankfully, that happened rarely). No meeting, no forms no anxious waiting in the hall...

I entered Captain Householder's lair, and as I sat amidst the darkness, I felt a bit hypnotized by the cool green and red flashing lights and diodes of his collection of electronic geegaw. As he spoke, I felt a note of comradery along with his professionalism. I was hoping for the highest score a recruit had every received considering the effort I feel I have been putting forth. Actually the group as a whole has the determination of salmon swimming up stream. Its amazing to watch such a steadfast bunch.

He shared some tutelage about the events of the past four weeks, and for the next few minutes I listened to a veteran public servant as he evaluated my performance. This was hard for him because of the short time we have been in the academy. Nevertheless, he was able to convey the necessary points of importance and was even able to bring a smile to my face.

So how did I fare? "????" across the board! (personal information between me and the Cap) This is good and it leaves plenty of room to grow.
A comment box at the bottom of each evaluatory section left the "Good Captain" a place to add his own comments, this is what one line read;

"Recruit Stoehr's enthusiasm is refreshing..."

I like it!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Week 2, 3 and 4

Another Sunday has come around and this time 3 weeks have clicked by without touching base with my cyber community. Yes, I have neglected the use of electronics and the electromagnetic spectrum to store, modify, and exchange data via networked systems and associated physical infrastructures... or I could say I've been too busy to turn on my computer.

College bound boy back from Costa Rica had a good time serving the great people there. He helped lead worship during church meetings, and had opportunities to enjoy the culture and sights. Got to play with monkeys too.

The girl has got her sights set on getting a job. Gathering various job applications from the local malls and store fronts. The rising cost of fuel has forced us to cut back on unnecessary trips to and from friend's houses, so to keep the wheels turning she is trying to generate some of her own money. I'll keep you posted on her success.

The ball player is done for the season. They won their last season tournament, but without Joe. He re-injured his back and had to sit out the championship game. The rest of his summer will be spent catching up on summer reading, shreddin up that Les Paul and trying to make some extra money working around the house. Oh, and I think he might spend some time with his special friend...

The better half has been frantically working in an effort to replace any momentum lost from my attendance at the fire academy. For me, the EMT course is now starting its fourth week. We cover a lot of ground each week with 2 to 3 chapters each night and quizzes the next day on material covered. We have patient assessment labs twice each week as well. Captain Pain (Payne) has got us up to 1.5 miles in just under 14 minutes, and that's the whole group. I think that is a big deal because you have a group of people from 19 to 43, 110 lbs to 310 lbs, with various shin splints, ankle and knee injuries. We have added ladder carrying to our Tuesday and Thursday routine. In groups of 3 to 5 recruits, we carry a ladder above our heads for 1/4 mile. try it sometime... its very painful.

I need to get choppin. I have three chapters to read for tomorrow and study for two quizzes. As long as I keep ahead of the game I'll be all right. The material is difficult, but I find it somewhat enjoyable to read and study. I never imagined myself actually liking this part of the process, but I really do. Learning is fun!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Week 1

It was busy for all of us in our household this week. The middle one left for Hilton Head on a youth function with some of her friends on Wednesday. The oldest one is in Costa Rica for 9 days on a mission trip with church. The young one is on the DL with a sore back. He hurt it last week swinging for the bleachers in a tournament game. Mama has been up to her usual 13 hr shifts and endless house chores. Me; I finished my first week of boot camp academy... still alive.

Each day starts out with stretching and a short walk to wake up and get the blood flowing. During the day we had various visits and speeches from members of the KFD as well as Civil Service. I had been through all the new hire stuff, so I was bored to tears most of the day. The visits from fire department staff was more interesting, even compelling at times.

Around 3pm we change into our PT clothes and do our various cleaning duties. After that we have our PT. Mon-Wed-Fri we run. One mile right now, but that will change as we progress. Tue-Thur, we exercise; sit-ups, push-ups, mountain climbers, squats, jumping jacks and the like. After we are completely spent, we run the 6 story tower... twice. It's all well and good, I'm getting paid to exercise and stay healthy,with a personal fitness instructor to boot. And get this, our drill instructor's name... Captain Payne!

At one point last week our head instructor, Captain Dyer asked us to write an essay entitled, "Why I want to be a firefighter". Here was my entry:

The past fourteen months have been filled with many different emotions, conditions and experiences. Since my venture down the road to become a City of Knoxville Fireman, I have asked this question to myself many times; “Why do I want to be a fireman?” I wish I could say I’ve always wanted to be a fireman, but that would not be true. I had entertained thoughts at one time or another of what it would be like, but positions in my old hometown of Olean, NY didn’t open up very often and it was a very small department. Positions that did open were rewarded to applicants who had college degrees. Nevertheless, I envied the friends and acquaintances I had in the OFD.

At first the reason to become a fireman was simple economics. It was a pay raise for me with the possibility of promotion. Working for the city, the more I was exposed to the fire stations and the people who served there, the more the lifestyle grew on me. Other conditions were added to my list; being part of a professional uniform body, the thought of having 20 days off a month, the retirement, the red truck and so on. All these things have driven me to this point in time at the training academy. That is, until the first three days of the academy.

I woke up this morning at 5am in a bit of a panic. I had a dream of being trapped in the maze trailer Captain Dyer showed us yesterday. I couldn’t sleep and in my tossing and turning I woke my wife. I told her about my dream and how real it felt. I told her I was scared not only of the maze trailer, but of many aspects of the academy I would have to endure. The next thing she told me brought me full circle to certain events from the last three days. Allow me to explain.

Chief Pressley showed us the importance of serving the people of the city; our customers. Chief Loveday’s presentation proved the value of life in the random person you encounter, and how that life could be placed in my hands to save. Chief Lawson proved the value of our families in the department and how they need help at times as well. Jeff Kindrick showed us why he would lay down his life for another brother in service. I shared the same sentiments as all those men I had met this week.

This is what my wife Becky told me this morning. She said for as long as she has known me I have always wanted to help people. In church, at work, a stranger on the street, my neighbors… I always want to help anyone in need. She mentioned that in my last position with the city and in my previous jobs elsewhere, I was bound to work orders and task lists which hindered me from doing this freely. This has frustrated me. What better way to fulfill someone’s life desire to help others than to be a fireman? She finished by saying, “You are destined for this career; you are destined to be a firefighter; you are destined to help people.” I finally feel like this is where I was meant to be.

I want to be a firefighter because I want to help people, and like the passionate servants of the Knoxville fire department that spoke to my heart this week, I was destined for this job.

Recruit Stoehr is 10-8

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Week off?

Friday was my last day at the service department for the city. I met with a few friends after work at Barleys in the old city. A good time was had by all and of course my good friend and blogger Tenn "mulberry" Jed was in attendance. The gathering was a nice way to end my 21 month tour with the Dyer bunch in Facilities Services.
I had about 60 hours of leave, so I decided to take a week off to prepare myself and meditate on the boot camp fire training starting next Monday. The 26 week training will have some intense moments I'm sure, so a week long "lull in the action" was deemed necessary. A bit of recliner time, and maybe some yard work, oh and I have been wanting to set up that hammock...

Lull in the action my foot!!

Saturday starts with an emergency plumbing repair for a friend. from there to a three game baseball tournament where the 3rd game goes into extra innings and that win set up a championship game for Sunday. First thing Monday, I buzz up to Oak Ridge to borrow an engine stand. The next 12 hours I spent swapping various brackets, pumps, and parts from the old engine to a new long block I had purchased for the 4runner my graduate will be taking to ETSU in the fall.
Today is more of the same, along with a visit to the physical therapist at 10. I expect to get a call to help install a door for another friend shortly after my PT appointment. If all goes well with the installation I will return home and try to finish the engine swap.
Tomorrow; grout in Farragut and install a light fixture downtown.

Thursday; ride along with engine 21, and another visit to PT Harden Valley.

Friday; Hopefully get the 4runner on the road, and get the Jeep ready for sale. At 5pm I'll go to the fire training center to get fitted for turnout gear.

Saturday; Another baseball tournament.

Sunday; Church. Baseball. Mow...

Back in the mid 80's when I first learned my trade. I worked for a guy who was quite a go getter, and would rarely slow down during the work day. When we would ask him if we could take a break, a 10 minute rest. He would respond, "You can rest when you die." As much of a work-a-holic jerk that he was... I think he was right.