One evening when I was new to the department we were called out to a brush fire at a saw mill. The owner had a brush pile he was trying to burn off. The wind picked up and spread the fire into the brush and woods nearby. This type of fire is quite normal here. In fact we had a similar call just yesterday.
Brush fires are hard to fight and take hours to get under control. Weird things happen like the fire can crown. Which is burn across the top of the trees over your head. Or the fire can get into the roots of the tree and make the ground hot. This can also restart the fire days after you thought it was out. But that is not what made this fire “The Shittest Brush Fire”.
Being new to Kentucky and after living in the suburbs and city for far too many years my nose does not know how to identify shit. As we are fighting the fire I smell what I think is cow shit. Quite normal in rural areas. So I figure that the pasture next to the saw mill has cows on it. As we fight the fire people are pointing out how slippery this shit is. Yes. The shit was slippery. So now I know we are in the thick of it. So I make a joke or two about this all being bullshit. And they need less bullshit on the next call.
After the third or fourth joke someone tells me that the saw mill owner's father runs a sewage pumping service. And he tried to put the fire out with the contents of one of his honey wagons. In other words this was not bullshit, or even cow shit. This was “Grade D” Central Kentucky human waste. The owner's father literally poured the contents of may septic tanks on the ground around us while trying to put the fire out. He was not successful.
At that moment I wanted to drop the hose and run. Go shower and scrub my skin for hours. Then sell everything and get as far away as possible. But then I looked at the firefighters that were out there with me, deep in the shit. They were not running away. And this was not normal for them. The thing that kept me from running away that night was my team and my desire to not let them down.
I did not care if half the county burned, or if the lumber mill owner lost everything. What I did care about was my team. That core group of people that show up when things are at there worst and do their best to stop the damage. These folks embrace the suck to make their community a safer place. Those are the people I want to work with and be a part of.
I hope you find a team that you never want to let down. A group of people that you would go through hell with before abandoning them. Or at least go through the shit with. That connection with people who have been there and done that is so strong and important to the human experience.