Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Ow. Hey. Back from KKB ( Kuala Kubu Bharu ). Firefighter's training in FRAM ( Fire and Rescue Academy of Malaysia ), yeah. Before you learn how to save the world, you must first learn how to save people from a burning house. So, here we go.

From my department - me and another colleague
From the HFID department - 5 fashionable guys ( kinda like that queer eye thing )
From the hardware department - 22 minus 7 people
Our coordinator - Mr. Z ( pronounced Zack )

12 December 2004, Sunday
3.15pm - We leave Penang, all 22 engineers on one bus.

7.15pm - Arrival in Kuala Kubu Bharu where we were greeted by Mr. Z. Checked in. Me and Shirish ( HFID - the same guy I went to US with earlier this year ) shared a room - the ONLY room with air conditioning. The other twenty engineers got non air-conditioned rooms. Nyah nyah.

8.00pm - Dinner.

After dinner - Mr. Z gave us a short briefing on what to expect.

After the briefing - Me, my colleague and the HFID guys decided to take a stroll around town. Actually, the HFID guys decided to take a stroll around town and since Shirish had the room key, I tagged along and my colleague followed cause there was nothing else much to do. After a long endless walk along very dark roads with possible rain ( heralded by lightning in the distance ), we finally reached the town. Which was empty and deserted around 9.00pm. About that point I complained to Shirish that everytime he brings me out, he keeps taking me to these small deserted little towns. So we walked on, and reached what might be the town center ( there's a 7-11 and a mamak shop there ). After that we walked along this area where Barisan National was having some sort of gathering, and fireworks went off just as we were in a very very strategic position to view them along the road. YES. FIREWORKS. In KKB! I SHIT YOU NOT. Thanks be to the DPM, who was supposedly visiting that night. I don't know how often they have fireworks in KKB, but man, it truly was a WTF moment. It was like they set off the fireworks for us or something. Some say it was triggered when one of the fashionable guys bought a can of soft drink from the sundry shop. Who knows? Who cares? Right after the fireworks ended, we headed back to the FRAM. It didn't rain.

After the stroll - Back at FRAM, we went to the karaoke room for awhile where some people were karaokeing. And then close to 11.30pm...

11.30pm - We all headed back to our rooms.

11.31pm - I detoured to chat with Shirish and a couple of the HFID guys until 12pm.

13 December 2004, Monday
Around 1 something am - FINALLY FARKING FELL ASLEEP. Yes, my room was blessedly air-conditioned, but the bloody pillow was too high and too hard. JESUS.

6.00am - Muslim morning prayers. It was like someone screaming in my face. And I think whoever was saying the prayers got a phrase wrong. MALU. You woke me up for this? COME ON. After awhile, drifted back to sleep.

7.00am - Alarm clock woke me up. Cold morning bath. Brr.

8.00am - Breakfast of nasi lemak and teh tarik. Mmm.

9.00am - Class commences.

10.30am - They teach us how to use a breathing apparatus. That thing with the oxygen tank and the gas mask which firemen use when entering burning buildings filled with smoke.

11.30am - They showed us a fire engine and its innards. And I climbed up the ladder and stood on the fire engine. Yes. I stood on a fire engine. That was a moment for me.

Sometime after that - Lunch. After this we got our coveralls, our helmet and our boots. We suited up nicely for...

2.00pm - Field training. They taught us how to carry fire hoses around, lay it out and basically coordinate stuff around. Very painful stuff, especially under the hot sun and all. At one point I felt like puking and fainting at the same time. This shows how out of shape I am. There's something really sadistic watching the recruits running around in full uniform breathing from the oxygen masks carrying the oxygen tanks on their back. Each cylinder weighs around 20kg.

5.00pm - The Dark Room exercise. They turn off the lights and let you grope each other as you try to find your way out. Sadistic bastards.

After the Dark Room - We washed up, and headed off to the fire department's open house. Very big affair, lots of Malay families which I assume belong to the firemen, a few stalls around with food.

9.00pm - After waiting an hour for the bigshot to turn up AND finish his speeches, we finally got to eat. Satay. Beef rendang. Soto lengkong. Fried rice. Lamb. Chicken. Ketupat. Durian. Oranges. Syrup. Man, I've never eaten so much so fast before. Of course, I was really hungry.

9.40pm - Tired but my hunger overappeased, I went to the TV room where I watched half of the Alias season 3 finale ( "Resurrection" ) before I headed back to bed. Too tired to finish the show.

11.00pm - Dropped dead in bed.

14 December 2004, Tuesday
6.00am - Prayer time again. But this time, it served me well. I stumbled out of bed and headed straight into the bathroom. There, I paid for my gluttony the night before with TWENTY FULL MINUTES OF HEAVY SHITTING. By the time I was done, I could no longer see the bottom of the toiletbowl. Heavy shit indeed.

7.00am - The real alarm call. But since I emptied my bowels earlier, the morning bath went quickly.

8.00am - Breakfast.

9.00am - The first group went off for their fire simulation. We, the second group, sat around and twiddled out thumbs while listening to the first group's antics over the radio.

Around 10.00am - OUR TURN. We hopped onto the fire engine and the rescue vehicle and cruised round town for awhile. Then the emergency call came in. And we scrambled towards the burning building ( SIMULATION ONLY ). It was fun. While we rescue folks cooled our heels and basically panicked about our masks and our gloves, the fire team raced to set up the hoses and put the fire out. Then the call came in to pick up dead people, so we hurried to the building with our stretcher to carry the wounded out. I think I cooked my ass a bit when I got too close to the flames, but apart from that, everything was peachy keen except for the wounded, who were heavy. It's always heavy when four idiots screws up carrying a stretcher. Geez. My colleague playacted as the second victim, and we nearly dumped her over the side of the staircase, but since she's still alive, I can now claim credit for saving her life. Oh hero, thy name is me.

After the death-defying simulation - We had this brief talking session with some of the firemen.

1.30pm - Lunch, thank God.

2.30pm - We gathered to leave and took some photos with the most esteemed Mr. Z, who's a very nice chap. He's one of the instructors, and he's really funny and engaging.

3.00pm - HOMEWARD BOUND. Most of the engineers feel asleep on the bus. What a bunch of wusses.

shortly after 7.00pm - HOME.

Christ, that was one hell of a trip. Muscles are aching in places I didn't know had muscles. But I had fun. It was torture, yes, but in a fun way. Right now, I'm really beat. I think I'm gonna go drop dead again now.

Things I have learned from fire fighter's training:
  • Fire is dangerous.
  • The fire fighter's training is bloody tough. Someone actually told me this a long time ago, but I forgot.

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