Len at Work: A day in the life of a firefighter


by Len Cannon / KHOU 11 News


Posted on August 1, 2011 at 7:03 PM

HOUSTON—To become a Houston firefighter, you have to survive eight months in the academy. KHOU 11 News anchor Len Cannon got one day.

The first lesson was how to put on all the equipment: boots, pants, mask, jacket, air pack and helmet.

Firefighters are trained to suit up in 90 seconds.

It took Cannon several minutes – with help.

"I haven’t taken a single step, but in 95 degree heat, I am drenched," Cannon said.

"I don’t recall my lip ever sweating in my life."

The next step was climbing the dreaded drill tower.

"I remember wanting to throw myself off the drill tower the first couple of weeks, thinking that was going to be the easy way out," remembered Capt. Chris Hill, a 15-year veteran of HFD.

Cannon and two cadets had to haul 100 pounds of gear up seven flights of stairs.

"It’s like walking up a mountain in quicksand," Cannon said.

Cannon made it but the cadets – who had been training for months --- left him in the dust.

The climb tests your endurance, going into a burning building tests your nerves.

"We have cadets quit the very first day," said Capt. Hill.

Cannon went into a relatively small fire burning in a shed.

"I get down on one knee, and hit the flames with a burst from the hose," Cannon said. ""It’s extremely hot. They kept telling me to get down because the higher you are the hotter it is. I got down, but it still felt hot to me."

In only a few hours at the academy, but Cannon quickly learned the job is more than just putting water on fire. It takes incredible stamina, dedication, and nerve.