Sunday, June 8, 2008

Pumping my 1st house fire

Now, Fridays are truck days, so we spend a good part of the morning really going over all the trucks. I did the normal truck checkoffs and then we caught a call. When we got back, we washed the engine and took apart 2 compartments to scrub them out and clean the mats. The chainsaw leaks bar oil and the compartment it's in gets nasty. Instead of being boring with more details, let's just say we went over almost every square inch of the fire truck.

I had to take the truck to motor maintenance because we were extremely low on power steering fluid, that took over an hour (because they're slow). As I was leaving the station, our squad was being put in service for the shift (takes 2 to run it and 1 of our guys was at another station for a couple hours).

We didn't really run much that afternoon thanks to the squad jumping our calls. Right around dinnertime the whole department got extremely busy, we had calls pending and radio was freaking out. Thankfully that didn't last very long at all. Engine and squad made it back to the station and finished cooking and eating dinner.

And then it happened, the last thing I expected, the one thing everyone else wanted but I sorta feared... A house fire in our territory!!!!!

We all ran to the trucks. As my Captain was getting his gear on, our Chief called and wanted directions, the nextel was thrown to me. So here I am, driving the firetruck emergency down the street, talking to Chief on the nextel, and he's giving me a hard time about the directions. Got off the phone just in time to cross a major intersection and spotted the smoke column.

It's workin'!!!!!!!!!

The house was a single-story, 1 family, brick house, and it had heavy (lots of) smoke coming out both ends.

**keep in mind the other stations are extremely closeby, so plenty of help arrives fast**
I pulled up just past the house (have to see 3 sides if possible) and put my truck into pump mode. As I hopped out and started pulling my first crosslay to the front door, the next engine arrived and their driver (a classmate from my academy class) told me he'd get me water supply. I ran back to my truck to charge the 1st hoseline and throttle up the pump to give the correct pressure on the line. The 3rd engine arrived and I passed part of my 2nd crosslay their driver and made sure it came off the truck. Moments later I was charging that line as I opened my intake, water supply was completed.

Now that I had hydrant water, I throttled down my pump and used as much of the hydrant pressure as I could, why overwork the pump if I don't have to? I pulled a 3rd line from my skidload but didn't charge it with water, we always have to have a spare line on the ground in case something happens. I also went ahead and pulled my cooler and cups out and set them on the tailboard. It was over 90 degrees outside and Air & Light wasn't there yet.

Air & Light refills our airpacks and also carries rehab equipment like cold water and usually some type of crackers.

Most of my work was done for now so I stood beside my truck and watched the action. The corner of the roof had been breached by fire as I was charging the 2nd line, but was now out. Crews inside had gotten the upper hand on the fire. I met a crew halfway across the yard with my attic ladder (heard them ask for it). They used the ladder (attic ladders are skinny) to be able to get to and knock out the siding and plywood in the corner of the roof and make sure the fire was out.

Later on, we reloaded the spare line and I was able to shut down one of the crosslays. It was also reloaded onto the truck. Once that was done, the crews inside wanted a fan set up in the door to clear out smoke. The ladder's driver beat me to it with his fan, but it wouldn't stay cranked so I put out my electric fan...BTW, I have a generator on my truck and can power quite a lot of stuff with it.

Once it started getting dark out, I set up my light tower, so did my old classmate with his engine. Water supply was no longer needed and was disconnected. Everything inside was soaked one last time using tank water (we carry 500 gallons) and the line was shut down and put away. We allowed a couple of the residents to go inside, with our escort, and get their belongings. We were the last to leave the scene.

Fire was determined to have been started by food on the stove. All residents made it out ok and nobody suffered any injuries.

My captain was a driver/engineer before the department took away the position. He pulled me aside and told me that *now* I was released as a driver. He had no complaints about how I did pumping the fire either. That alone is the BEST compliment from him. He did finally say I needed to anticipate what the crews inside would need, but that that will come with experience.

Went back to the station and I refilled my tank from the hydrant out front while my captain took a quick shower and my other guy put on a clean/dry shirt. We went searching for fuel, went 4 places that were out before finding any. 27 gallons of diesel later we were on our way back home.

We did run 2 other calls overnight. At 619am we picked up another house fire nearly across the street from our station. Some arsonist tried to burn a vacant house down...he failed big time. The oncoming shift waited for the arson investigator and we went offduty.

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