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The firefighter

Mike Conry, 57, has been a firefighter for the past 26 years. He works out of Station 7 of the Brookline (Massachusetts) Fire Department, a part of greater Boston.

I'm kind of enjoying life a little now, looking forward to retirement.

The training is a lot different, a lot more intense now [than] in the last 10 years. They've given us better equipment. The infrared imaging devices are putting a whole new ballgame on the job now. The training has changed. It's better for the guys coming on the job.

Basically I would say 90 percent of the department is EMT [emergency medical technician] trained now. You have to go to the medicals [medical emergencies] anyway, so why not go through the schooling for it? Our last chief, [who] just retired recently, got permission from the town to send us to school. We all took a semester of training for EMT classes.

Brookline is about six square miles. [There are] senior citizens and a lot of high-rises in this area. So that's another reason that [EMT training] helps a lot.

I would venture to say it's 4-to-1 that you go to medicals rather than to fires, [or to] car accidents. Plus, we have a paramedic unit that works out of this firehouse that takes care of the whole town. They're a lot more intense than we are as EMTs. Their training is a lot longer, a lot more intense, and so it's good to have them with us. You know they're right behind you, going to a scene, so it helps a lot.

We have two women on the department now, and they're right here at Station 7. One has been here for just about a year and the other one has been here for two years. I think our adjustment has been just getting used to working with a female on the job. But we don't have any complaints, because if they can get through the training like we do, then they're just as qualified as we are. And so far, everything has worked out fine.

Overall, I'm just amazed with all of the people coming from other countries to this country. In Brookline alone the Russian influx has been tremendous. There seems to be a lot of older Russians coming to this country to retire and take advantage of our system. They're put through classes and they move right in without any problem at all.

I was kind of shocked with what [Clinton] went through with Ms. Lewinsky. I never really regained the respect for the presidency -- how he blatantly lied to everybody. But it was kind of an interesting thing to watch. The television, I think, opened up the eyes of the American people.

I know this last election proceeding has shocked a lot of people. I always think of this country as like an image for all other countries. And voting for president this last election kind of put a black mark on that.

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