You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

breaking news

UPDATE: Tornado watch until 6 a.m.; severe storms still possible

Skip the drama: Why being a Gardens firefighter is nothing like TV

Palm Beach Gardens Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Matt Haywood dangled from a second-story window in a tower off Military Trail and Burns Road Wednesday morning, suspended by a thin rope.

The rope was anchored to an ax he shoved into an interior wall before he hoisted himself out the window. Thankfully, this was just a drill.

Haywood was using the training structure at Station 61 on Burns Road to demonstrate how to use new “bailout bags” the city bought with a $43,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The bags, issued to all the firefighters, contain what they need to repel out of an upper story of a burning building if they become trapped.

After the demonstration, two others took turns exiting from the window, using different anchors each time. One included the smooth window sill.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you see it, watching the firefighters hop out the window was probably the most interesting event I witnessed during my first ride-along.

Apparently, I warded off the mayhem instead of bringing it with me. I wish the same were true of all my Saturday breaking news shifts. The fire station on the corner of Burns Road and Military Trail received not one call from when I arrived at 8 a.m. until I left at 1:30 p.m.

Even when I rode from station to station with Haywood as he made his rounds, all was quiet. The most exhilarating calls were for a fire and a car that looked like it was about to catch on fire. They were in Riviera Beach and the Acreage, respectively, and not serious enough or close enough for anyone from Palm Beach Gardens to be second due at the scene.

Maybe it’s for the best. Just like buying a house is not as seen on TV, neither is being a firefighter.

There is nothing exhilarating about the tedious task of carefully checking the expiration dates of medicines in the back of a rescue unit because it’s the end of the month, which is what I saw two firefighter/paramedics doing when I first showed up.

There is nothing exhilarating about reviewing updated protocol for medical calls, or discussing how much Narcan to give an addict who has overdosed so he or she starts breathing again without fighting back.

There is nothing exhilarating about working a 24-hour shift, either.

All of the above happens so firefighter/paramedics are ready when someone call 911 with a true emergency.

Now that I’ve seen an ordinary day for firefighters, it’s time to schedule a ride-along with police.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

BREAKING: More the 14,000 homes without power in Palm Beach County
BREAKING: More the 14,000 homes without power in Palm Beach County

More than 14,000 households in Palm Beach County are without power as a line of severe thunderstorms continues to move through the area. A severe thunderstorm warning remains in effect until 2:45 a.m., according the National Weather Service. As of 2 a.m., there were more than 2,000 power outages along PGA Boulevard, west of Palm Beach Gardens...
UPDATE: Missing deaf, mute woman found unharmed
UPDATE: Missing deaf, mute woman found unharmed

Update, 11:45 p.m.: Dasha Matthews has been found unharmed, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said Sunday night. Original story: A deaf and mute woman went missing Sunday afternoon, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said. Dasha Matthews, 26, was last seen near the Napleton car dealership on Northlake Boulvard west of Congress...
NEW: Five injured in Boynton shooting include boy celebrating birthday
NEW: Five injured in Boynton shooting include boy celebrating birthday

Police released the names of four adults and a boy on the eve of his sixth birthday who were shot Saturday night as they were gathered outside a home on Northeast Second Street. None of them suffered life-threatening injuries, according to authorities. Sunday, Boynton Beach police continued to search for the shooter or shooters. Detectives said they...
Luke Bryan to perform national anthem at Super Bowl
Luke Bryan to perform national anthem at Super Bowl

He’s set to perform the national anthem at the Super Bowl on Feb. 5. This marks the first time Luke has performed at the big game and he’s understandably beside himself with excitement. Luke told People there was never a doubt he would take on this gig. When the NFL made the big request, Luke said, “Hell yes, I’ll...
Trump calls Georgia Gov. after deadly storms
Trump calls Georgia Gov. after deadly storms

President Donald Trump on Sunday called Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal to offer condolences about the deadly storms that have swept through the state.  Trump described the tornadoes as vicious and powerful during remarks in the East Room of the White House during his second full day in office, according tot he Associated Press.  CNN reported that...
More Stories