As I awaited my turn to go inside, it seemed all I could focus on was my labored breathing through the mask. Now wearing at least 60 pounds of equipment, I forgot how heavy the helmet seemed at first.
VanNatta said the gear costs $5,000 for one fireman and I was glad I had it on.
My trainer was Mike H-O-L-M-E-S (he made sure several times I knew the spelling of his last name). He's on the MWVFD and works for the Haltom City Fire Department. After Seth hooked up my oxygen, H-O-L-M-E-S took charge of me as I walked inside in what seemed like a space suit.
We followed the hose inside the old Gene Lee house, stepping up where the house must have had an addition and making a U-turn into a seemingly very narrow hallway – I was told this was the size of most hallways in houses. It was at this point that my mind almost put on the brakes. I couldn't see, everything was pitch black and I was advised to kneel down and I could see better. I was disoriented.
Then Holmes said my name along with some other reassuring words I can't recall. Just hearing my name in that situation seemed to do so much to put me at ease.
I then saw a flash of fire and the silhouette of firefighters between the fire and me and I crawled toward them.
“Where's Libby?” asked Assistant Chief Lin Reasoner, who was in the room with the fire. He was waiting on me to get in position to take photos before he added fuel on the fire.
“Put your hand on Lin's shoulder,” Holmes said.
I did so, got ready to shoot and tried hard, but couldn't seem to operate the camera the way I wanted to with the thick fire gloves on. They warned me that I should move back or my camera might melt. However, it didn't seem that hot to me. Later, someone said it was in the neighborhood of 500 degrees, maybe more, but didn't feel like it.