After a disastrous outing last week, Richard Hammond looks to redeem himself in this episode of Crash Course by tackling the Striker, “the most powerful fire engine in the world.”
He’s in Dallas-Fort Worth, TX to learn not just how to drive the massive rescue vehicle, but how to use it at the scene of a fire. To help him, he’s got firefighter Lewis, who shows him some forty-odd buttons in the cockpit, all with specific functions.
As in the logging episode, before he gets to play with the machines, Richard has to learn how to do the job the old-fashioned way. Lewis teaches him how to fight a fire with a hose and what the proper footwork is. Following that, he must take on the physical agility test that all firefighters must pass, and Richard completes it with just seconds to spare (before finding out it was only an abbreviated version of the course!).
Back inside the cab of the Striker, he gets driving tips from Lewis for both on and off the road. This is much more in Richard’s element. “I’m pretty amazed…this is going better than I expected,” Lewis tells us afterward.
Day two of Richard’s training begins with mastering the Striker’s water cannon. To illustrate the difference in power between that and a regular hose, he sets up a version of the classic carnival game where you shoot water into a clown’s mouth to inflate a balloon. The cannon doesn’t just fill the balloon; it obliterates the entire target.
Richard then has to use that cannon to knock some balls off the top of road cones, without taking out the cones themselves. It’s going to be an exercise in finesse, even with the help of veteran Striker driver Jenn. Richard fails miserably the first time around, but gets it the second time (with an assist from the wind).
With the basic skills mastered, it’s time for an obstacle course. Can Richard save a minivan? (Even if he doesn’t want to?) Lewis gives him advice and encouragement along the way, telling us “He’s picking up concepts that it takes two weeks for somebody to pick up.” Richard does well with the driving and target practice…but the minivan is still on fire despite all the water he used on it. Whoops.
Final exam time! For Richard, it’s a day at the firehouse; he doesn’t get to know when the exam starts. His cooking doesn’t go over that well in the interim, but that’s not the point. Just after the meal, the alarm sounds. He gets into full firefighting gear and behind the wheel of the Striker to respond to an aircraft fire. Although a little stressed, Richard puts out the entire blaze with three seconds left on the clock and gets a round of applause for his efforts.
Yet within seconds of the exam being over, a real alarm sounds for a grass fire and there’s no time for Richard to do anything but go along for the ride. The fire is put out within moments and gives us a chance to see the Striker in action.
The firefighters are very complimentary of Richard, who says that he’ll miss working with them and their huge machine that helps them “fight fires and save lives.” It’s another successful challenge for Richard, and a much more interesting episode than the previous, because of the camaraderie.
You could tell the firefighters liked having Richard there and wanted him to succeed, which wasn’t something we got last week with the landfill crew. And that made all the difference, in terms of the episode being much more watchable. (Plus, watching things on fire is more fun than watching garbage being moved.) Kudos to everyone!
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Image courtesy of BBC America