Episode 4: Striker

What’s your favorite thing about being a firefighter?
Warren: Customer service. When I’m training other firefighters, I’m giving them tools to stay alive. And when I’m called into duty, I’m increasing someone’s chance of survival. Plus, I enjoy any education — from teaching people aircraft firefighting and how to develop firefighter skills and to when I go to schools to teach kids how to stop, drop, and roll. With education and training, you can influence a person’s chances [of survival] and influence their behavioral patterns to help save their lives.

What was it like working with Richard? Did you think he could indeed master the Striker in just three days?
Warren: I was highly doubtful. I thought, “This is going to be fun.” We have to train around mercy calls, visitors, trainings, and maintenance issues. So, I thought three days was going to be crazy.

But I saw a couple of episodes of ‘Top Gear’ and he seemed like a funny guy. He’s pretty consistent, and he’s witty and smart. He understands vehicles like crazy.

When taming a massive fire, safety definitely comes up first. How did you explain the safety precautions to Richard?
Warren: When we were getting ready to go fight that mammoth fire in the pit area, I had just a few moments. We were talking about how intimidating the fire is when you get there. In the fire truck, you have to go back to training versus what you see and feel. You have to think about the people around you and where they are, and how you’re going to manage The Striker’s water stream. And you have to be able to communicate what you’re doing and not be mesmerized by the fire.

So, in training with Richard, I told him to keep his cool. It’s going to be hot. You’re eyes will overwhelm you, but just go back to what you were taught, which is control your stream. If you do that, you will control your safety and the fire.

I understand that one of the days during filming was especially hot in Dallas?
We were in the second hottest summer in Texas history by one day. It had dropped below 100 degrees, but it was blistering hot. When we finally got into the air conditioning, he said “It’s bloody hot here,’ and I just started laughing. I think he thought I was offending him, but I said, “No, you’re the first Brit I’ve ever heard say ‘bloody.’” I’ve heard it on TV, but it was the first time I heard him say it. We laughed for at least 10 minutes.

As a host, he was extremely fun. It was just a blast. He had idea after idea after idea. He was so great and a lot of fun to work with.

What advice would you give to an aspiring firefighter who might want to take on The Striker?
Warren: My advice would be to learn the truck and the different systems it has — all of the operational systems from the water delivery system to the emergency backup systems. Also, understand how to manage a vehicle of that size by using the mirrors, the independent suspension, and learn how not to over compensate. And learn your systems on the truck first, then in driving the vehicle, start learning the vehicle’s limitations so you can understand what the truck does and how it reacts to different positions on the road.

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