Ann Arbor firefighter living the dream
Updated On: Nov 01, 2009

Ann Arbor firefighter living the dream

 By Lisa Allmendinger, A2 Journal

Ann Arbor firefighter Ira Harrison had just emerged from a 10-foot-10 burn room where temperatures reached 1,300 degrees at the ceiling level.

At 400 degrees, the mask firefighters wear begins to melt.

It was about 550 degrees over the top of his helmet, which was protected by "a Jiffy Pop cover," so it wasn't damaged.

He just had the opportunity to safely watch all the stages of a flashover fire during a training session at Ann Arbor Fire Station 6 -- his second home -- near Briarwood Mall.

The youngest of five children, Harrison, a 16-year veteran of the department, was ready to go right back inside.

Despite dripping sweat, Harrison talked about the experience.

"I'd tank up and do it again," he said with a smile. "It wasn't bad."

In fact, he enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about firefighting -- watching and learning as smoke filled the box that he occupied with seven other firefighters and instructors.

Harrison likened it to situations he had seen before. But, in this instance, he knew he wouldn't get hurt.

Harrison had an opportunity to safely fight the fire rather than back out and get away from it.

"They had let the fire rebuild and part of it was seeing when smoke catches, and gets hot, and banks down," he said.

"It gets real hot, but you're down low," Harrison said, recalling the experience.

"It wasn't hotter than some of the places I've been in," he said, referring to a house fire that "got very hot, but didn't flash."

A flashover is described as "when everything in the room bursts into flame and gets very hot."

Although Harrison hasn't been in a flashover, he's fought some bad fires.

He said the guys and gals at the Ann Arbor Fire Department are like family to hime.

"Everyone's got your back and you have theirs," he said.

Harrison recalled one of the worst fires he had experienced.

"It was one of the first times I drove, and you see guys who need your help. One of my good friends was in it, and I was in the truck. It felt weird," he said.

Chuck Hubbard has known Harrison for 24 years.

"He's a great guy -- a good fireman, a good person and family man, and a really good cook," Hubbard said.

In fact, last Sunday, Harrison was making tacos for the substation crew.

"I'm a rare commodity in Ann Arbor," he said, explaining that he was hired by the fire department with no experience and was put through the fire academy.

Today, it's different he said. The firefighters who are hired already have experience.

Harrison has spent his entire firefighting career with Ann Arbor

And, like most firefighters, he has a second job.

When asked what makes a good firefighter, Harrison said, the good ones "love people and like to help people."

He said the Ann Arbor Fire Department is filled with people who possess many different skills.

And he's proud to be one of them.

Lisa Allmendinger can be reached at lallmendinger@heritage.com or at 1-877-995-NEWS (6397).



Contact Info
Ann Arbor Firefighters Local 693

Ann Arbor, MI 48104

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