The day I drove a fire truck.

by Gillian Jones / Berkshire Eagle Staff When North Adams Fire Director Steve Meranti asked me if I would photograph firefighters training with an obstacle course in the parking lot behind the Big Y Supermarket, it seemed like a good photo op. Over the years, I have photographed not only the firefighters in action but during their various drills as well. Photos of today s training session After taking some photographs of the training in which drivers navigated the trucks around a tight course of cones, I introduced myself to Ken Jones of the MIIA or the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association, which sponsored the training for the department.

Would you like to try driving the truck? he asked. It isn t as easy as it looks!

Oh no, I thought. Wouldn t that be a liability? According to Ken, he had done it with other reporters who covered training sessions all over the state.

As long as it was okay with the lieutenant, it was okay with him. Besides, he works for the company that insures the trucks. Accompanied by a firefighter I stepped up into the cab with my cameras and phone which I use for video.

I handled the truck ever so carefully as I navigated around the cones using the mirrors to make sure I didn t do anything to jeopardize this amazing piece of machinery. It was definitely more difficult than it looks, and I didn t even go in reverse. Probably the biggest challenge was the steering wheel which is huge and uses all your upper body to steer.

I have a brand new respect for firefighters and just driving that huge rig under stressful conditions. Hard to believe, last month I got to ride in a fire truck with Brayton Elementary School student Zach Hillard, as he enjoyed being Officer Zach for the day. Today I drove a fire truck.

Maybe if my career as a photojournalist every ends, I can train to be a truck driver.

They said I did a pretty good job of driving.

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The day I drove a fire truck.

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