Yet another reason to walk down Shotwell: When you pass the police training building at 19th, the firemen are often doing fireman exercises that look impossibly cool and fun.

I realize that there is more to being a fireman than rappelling out of windows on beautiful summer afternoons. I have heard that burning buildings are not especially nice places to be in. I have heard rumors that fire is hot and can possibly burn you.

But still, myself and the crowd of small children and their parents who stopped to gape at this — we all knew what we wanted to be when we grew up. Even if we were grown up already.

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Heather Smith covers a beat that spans health, food, and the environment, as well as shootings, stabbings, various small fires, and shouting matches at public meetings. She is a 2007 Middlebury Fellow in Environmental Journalism and a contributor to the book Infinite City.

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