While sitting at home in my favourite chair with nothing more taxing to do than read my favourite national newspaper, “an idle of time brought about by way of a four week leave period” I got to reminiscing about my working life at sea. This chosen career that I undertook required that I attend various training courses. I entered the industry in the capacity of cook, and left with the rank of Tug’s Master.
One such skill, “Fire fighting at sea” and in particular “The fireman’s walk” seemed very apt for the project I had in mind. I decided this skill would be an advantage to both me and my wife, if I made the effort to teach her.
“The Fireman’s Walk,” is a method of tentatively walking through a smoke filled room that has zero visibility, without injury to one’s self. Progression through the room is made slowly, while the way ahead is tested by placing the outstretched foot ahead of the body, then performing a probing arc of a circle to establish that the way ahead is sound and clear.
The hands also play a part in this well established safety walk. The back of one hand is used to establish contact with a continuous solid object such as a wall. This action confirms that the structure of the building is sound and intact. The back of the other hand reaches out to your opposite side and travels in a forward arc movement that concludes by crossing your path. This action would enable the participant to locate any debris, which may lead to their demise.
It’s worth mentioning why only the backs of the hands are used; though not paramount to the story. I will endeavour to explain. If the open palm of the hand comes into contact with live electrical cables and you are shocked, the hands will automatically grasp the bare cable by way of a reflexive finger’s movement, and the end result is “goodnight nurse.” Contact with the back of the hand does not have
a similar effect; in fact it may well throw you away from the danger.
Now I think I have educated the reader enough, that I will not feel responsible for any person finding themselves in this situation, who having read this story, then runs wildly through the building, arms outstretched, seemingly imitating the famous American entertainer Al Jolson, by screaming the words to his popular song of the nineteen thirties “Mammy Oh Mammy!”
I had to use all my managerial skills to convince my wife that, for her to learn the “Fireman’s Walk” would be beneficial to both of us. Having come through tTugs Master Graham Phillipshe ranks to reach the top, I pride myself that I have never asked anybody, to do anything, which I hadn’t successfully done myself.
The training commenced at once, and was intensive. I had never trained a woman before, not in anything. I found she seemed to have less patience than the seafaring gentlemen I had trained in the past, and spent a lot of time arguing with me “a circumstance that is not tolerated aboard of my ship” She complained she could feel nothing with her hands because of the thick gloves she was wearing. She said! she could hear very little of my commands, because of the oversized thick woolly hat on her head that also covered her ears (My Hat.) The remark, that she couldn’t keep her balance because of the oversized seaman’s socks that tripped her as she walked, was unwelcome (and my blooming socks by the way!) This er… trainee, took great exception to losing her neck muffler, to be used as a temporary blindfold to simulate zero vision, “for the purpose of training only!