“Mom, I had my death picture taken today,” says my son over the phone.
“What? Your what?!?”
“My death picture. That’s what the guys call it. We have our picture taken in front of the flag wearing our dress uniform. If we die in the line of duty, that’s the picture they put on my casket and in the newspaper.”
“Oh,” is all I can say.
Eli’s a firefighter.
He’s been thoroughly trained on a course filled with obstacles designed to prepare (or purge) recruits who desire to fight fires. To remind them of the perilous nature of the job, many of the obstacles are named for fallen firefighters. The Bob Lee Wall is a six foot high cement wall. Bob Lee couldn’t scale a similar obstruction, was trapped in a fire and died. The Denver Drill is named for an downed firefighter who perished next to a window because his team couldn’t get him out of the fire from their position outside the building. The Comrade Course is a series of cement tubes, 3 feet in diameter. Recruits have to wriggle through them in a hundred pounds of turnout gear, secure a “victim” and drag them back through the tubes to safety.
It’s serious training because lives depend on it.
I hope and pray I never have to use Eli’s death picture.
But I know that fire and smoke try to kill my son on every call.