Week22 – Fire Brigade Training Night

28 May – 3 June ’11

My Lovely Man is the training officer for the Ashhurst Volunteer Fire Brigade.  This week he needed some ‘victims’. Our kidlets volunteered.

Where there’s no smoke, there’s no fire

7pm, it’s dark outside.  Dressed in warm clothes, camera packed, we wait  at home for the call.   SSO Loach phones that he’s ready, the kids and I jump in the car and head  to the site of the ‘rescue’.

The scenario – the changing rooms at the Domain are on fire, filled with smoke.

The call goes in to the station, in short order the fire engine arrives and the fire men leap in to action.  A witness (who also happens to be a photographer 🙂  ) explains in a rather vague fashion that  some children, “three or four of them, about ‘this’ high” , might have been inside the building.

Ashhurst 221

Ashhurst 221

Running out hose

The first team dons BA (breathing apparatus), the visors of which, for the purpose of the excersise, have been covered.  Now, when they enter the site they will be blind, as they would in the event that a building is filled with smoke.

Donning BA - with a little help from friends

Preparing to go in

In teams of two, the firemen feel their way around the corridors and rooms.

The SSO watches on as a team goes in

Two by two - operating as a team

Once they locate a ‘victim’ they must work their way back out again, following the walls.  One team member leads the way, the other carries the victim, and they must keep in constant physical and verbal contact.

Feeling the way, and staying in constant contact

Recovering a victim - this one looks far too happy

Some of the ‘victims’ kept running back in, and had to be saved multiple times!  But this of course meant that all the firies could practise their rescue techniques.

Keeping a record - notes on the scene

Standing by at the door

It was an interesting excersise to watch.   And as I’ve thought about it afterwards,  it occurs to me that there is much more to this training excersise than just practicing how to operate in zero visibility.  It’s also about team building,  about putting absolute faith and trust in the other guys to get you in and back out again safely.

Photographically speaking, documenting this training night was a challenge.  Low light, constantly changing from out side to inside, flashing red lights, ghastly yellow walls.

Oh, and the kidlets had a blast.  Even if they did sustain a few bruises. Better bruised than dead, I say.


8 responses to “Week22 – Fire Brigade Training Night

  1. Pingback: Fire Brigade Rescue

  2. Gordon O. McGinnis

    Hi, American living in Thailand here. I am responding solely because you use the word “kidlets” to refer to your children. I am the only person to date I’ve ever heard or seen use that word (non-word?) (made up word?). I am not sure where I got it. I am 51 years old now so who knows where or when, eh?

    While I am here though it is encouraging to see you shooting such good night shots with a D90. I have one as well and have fooled around with night shooting a couple times now. High failure rate. VERY high. (I know you shoot a D90 because I first saw the pics on Digital Photography School.)

    Not giving up. Wonder where/how did you learn to shoot at night?

    By-the-way the thankyoujesus portion of my eMail address refers to what I utter every time I accidently trip and fall into producing a decent photo.

    • Hi, Gordon. Hmmm… I think I kinda made up the word ‘kidlets’. Maybe I didn’t. I really can’t remember. It’s a fun word to use. 🙂
      The D90 is capable of all sorts of things if you treat her right. The secret to these shots is a 50mm prime lens, and using the snipers breathing technique to get a steady shot.
      And loads of practice. Also, I shot over 200 photos that night. So my failure rate is pretty high. The next big secret, ‘only show your best work’. 😀

      Thanks for you comments.
      Cheers, Lisa

  3. Gordon O. McGinnis

    Re: “Kidlets.” And I thought I had made it up. That is why I was so surprised when I saw you using it that I commented. Nothing new under the sun…..and all that I suppose.

    Re: Prime lens. I use an 18 – 200mm for just about everything I shoot. Why would a prime lens be the better choice for night shots?

    Also, what were your exposure settings?

    Finally I do understand the shoot lots and lots of pics. Years ago I saw on the wall a pic of a seagull in flight. Perfectly composed and exposed. Clear. I asked my friend who shot it how he did that and he said, “luck.” Like you he explained he took 100s of photos and out of all of them he got some good ones.

    Thanks now.

    • The 50mm prime, the ‘nifty-fifty, allows for an aperture of f/1.8. (My 18-125 zoom only goes to f/3.5.) I knew I’d need the widest aperture I could get in the low light, so that’s the lens I took with me.
      All the outdoor shots were taken at f/1.8. I was using exposure times that were as long as I could get away with, choosing moments when the guys were standing stillish – from 1/160sec
      to 1/80sec. I wound the ISO up a bit, to around ISO640 – ISO800. Not too noisy, and the noise reduction in Lightroom3 is pretty good. Also, shooting RAW allows for more leeway in post processing.
      Hope this helps. 🙂

  4. All of that is great info. Thank you very much. I just learned a bunch.
    My 18 – 200mm only goes to 3.5 as well.
    Do you mind me asking more questions?
    I have my D90 set to save in both RAW and JPEG. So far all the post processing I’ve done has been with the JPEG. Cropping. Sharpening. Resizing for web site use. Some color touch up. Didn’t occur to use the RAW. Would you suggest working with the RAW then converting the finished product to JPEG as needs be?
    Guess I am wondering specifically what you refer to when you say “shooting RAW allows for more leeway in post processing.”
    Thanks very much.

    • I don’t mind questions at all. I’ve learned so much myself over the last 18months, mostly from hanging out at DPS, that I’m happy to pass on what I’ve picked up. I would most definitely recommend working with RAW files. As I understand it, the camera’s processors record whatever info it sees, then converts that information to the JPEG file that you are using. So to a certain extent you are allowing the software programmers from Nikon to decide how your picture looks. If you take the RAW information and process it yourself, you are totally in control of the out put – then you convert to JPEG for use once you’re done. You have probably noticed that the RAW file is much, much larger than the JPEG? This is because the camera compresses the picture information to creat the JPEG output. Alot of information is lost in that compression process. There is simply a vast amount more digital information to work with when you process from RAW yourself. I was able to lighten/brighten up the night time shots much more than I would have been able to had I recorded just the JPEG. I hope this makes sense?
      Some thing to be wary of though – your shots won’t look as good straight out of camera from RAW. Remember, they’re not processed yet. Get yourself a good processing programme, and learn how to use it. I use Adobe’s Lightroom3, but there are others out there. Something that most non-photographers fail to grasp is the HUGE amount of learning and work that is required to make good photographs. I’m only scratching the surface my self.

  5. OK. Cool. Thank you again.
    I will take that info and run with it, see what I turn out.

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