Several months ago, Scottsdale fire chief Tom Shannon asked me to emcee his agency’s awards gala that is coming up in June. Ron Wolfley will be the keynote speaker.
Little did I know that accepting the invitation would lead to one of the most intense experiences I’ve ever had.
It was time to be formally introduced to the flashover chamber.
Chief Shannon wanted Wolf and I to have a real firefighter experience and arranged for us to meet at the Chandler Fire Training Facility. The anticipation was like standing in line for a really scary roller coaster. I knew I’d be safe, but I was still sweating — even before I put on all the gear and was placed in a 1,500 degree, smoke-filled metal box.
Depending only on an oxygen mask to breathe, I watched as the smoke turned the small room pitch black and filled it with gasses that caught fire and swirled around me. It was claustrophobic, unbelievably hot, cramped, disorienting and absolutely amazing.
I’ve always had the utmost respect for our firefighters who bravely face danger every day, but after this experience, I think the label “Hero” is entirely appropriate.