Monday, December 8, 2008

October 5, 2008 House Fire

We'd just gotten back from a medical call and completed our paperwork. I was still sitting in the office with the OIC (officer in charge) and we heard the rip-n-run kick over. All calls we are dispatched to are printed on the rip-n-run. Me and the OIC walk out there and I grab the paper...

"OOh, fire........................Oh shit it's across the street!"

We took off for the truck, I had it cranked up before dispatch toned out any stations yet (whoohoo). We pulled out of the station and as we crossed the intersection, we were able to see the smoke and glow from the fire.

As we pulled up to the house, it was burning the fuck up...there's no other way to explain it really. So, I'll let this blurry picture do the talking for me. The houses on either side were major exposure issues as well, the one to the left was already catching fire.

I shifted the truck to pump mode, turned on the generator, and hopped out. I pulled about half of the 200' crosslay (preconnected attack line) onto my shoulder and took it as far into the yard as I could. I ran back to the truck and finished pulling the rest off and then ran to the pump panel and charged the crosslay. I pulled the other crosslay and set it near the house to the left, thinking it would be perfect for the exposure once we got more units onscene. I didn't charge that crosslay yet though.
Back at the truck, and as more units are arriving, I pulled and passed off one of the 2 1/2" attack lines, and hooked the end to a discharge (those lines aren't preconnected). I knew I'd have to wait until I had water from the hydrant (positive water supply) to charge that line. About this time, I also ran out of tank water. We carry 500 gallons and the person riding tailboard had been dumping the water on the fire (pointless) instead of protecting the exposures (what we're supposed to do).
I notified command (guy in charge) that I was out of water as I was throttling down the pump (I had throttled it up to put more pressure on the crosslay). Another driver was working on my water supply and I made sure my truck was ready for water. I *think* this was about the time I took the picture above. I also set up my command light, it's a huge bank of lights on top of the truck.
There was a major misunderstanding, aka, rookie that didn't know what to do, when it was time to charge the supply getting the supply charged took a few minutes. I also didn't help that command was running his mouth on radio and wouldn't shut up so we could call the rookie at the hydrant and tell him to charge it.
FINALLY got water into my truck and charged the 2 1/2" line. Someone pulled the other 2 1/2" and I tried to charge it, but quickly realized there wasn't enough water from the hydrant, so I had to shut that line back down. The captain who wanted the other line yelled for me to charge it again, I told him I couldn't and why, then keyed up my radio and advised all units onscene that there was extremely low pressure off the hydrant. It's the nice and formal way to say "don't ask me for any more water, this is all I've got!" Of course, I immediately had 4 guys at my pump panel trying to troubleshoot what I was doing wrong. I was doing everything right, there just wasn't any pressure to be had. They left me alone and a crew was detailed to walk the supply line and make sure it wasn't kinked (kinks can drastically reduce the pressure). It didn't make any difference. I continued doing what I'd been doing, giving them as much as I could without cavitating my truck (cavitation is trying to put out more water than you're taking in).
Now, it's been 21 minutes since we were dispatched. It seems like a very short amount of time when you're there, but looking back as I'm writing this, it seems not a lot got done.
Really, about this time is when I ran out of things to do. I've been told that the first 20 minutes are crazy for the driver, and it was right-on. Nobody was allowed to go inside the structure until most of the fire had been knocked down, so there weren't any SCBA bottles to swap out. The driver that had helped with water supply had been getting water bottles or gatorade for the crews working as soon as the air truck got there. There wasn't really anything for me to do, so I just continued monitoring my pump panel and watching the scene.
Side Note** I just realized I never posted this, I initiallywrote about it in a different journal, but completely forgot to copy it over to this one.

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