That’s twice

blog engineI’m walking through a busy shopping center looking for someone, not sure who, and it’s stressing me out.  Panic, confusion, anticipation.  Then a loud tone strikes me from my sleep, the shopping center nothing but a dream.  The lights are bright in the dorm of the firehouse, the time is just before 2 AM and the tones finish just as I sit up to the corner of the bed awaiting the inevitable magic voice telling me where the sick people are.

“Units standby for the box!” the voice says with a tone of excitement.

A fire.

The dorm springs to life, sleepy firemen now scrambling into their turnouts and heading for the pole hole as the dispatcher rattles off the companies due.  Downstairs we dress, the doors are coming up and the rainy night awaits our response.  The dispatcher finishes reading the first alarm assignment by telling us this is a report of smoke in a building and we take that very seriously.

The engine beats the truck out the door, as we should, but not by much and I can see them following from my rear facing jump seat.  The green light on the front gives away they are a truck company, letting our driver know to let them take the block ahead of us if we’re second due.  The MDT tells me that we are first due and by the address, we’re less than 3 blocks away.  I might just be ready by the time we get there.

Hands still tingling from waking suddenly we are on scene to the large apartment building with nothing showing but an audible alarm sounding and young people milling about in the lobby.

My walk around the engine to my airpack gives me a chance to size up the building.  If we’re going above the ground floor, we’ll need a bundle to extend a pre-connect.  The first door on the first floor (first above the garage level) has a smoke detector alarm sounding and an odor of burnt food.  Deadbolt secured, we’ll need to force the door, damaging it completely, to make entry to investigate.

The truck is laddering the fire escape when they see a haze through the window of the unit in question and the decision is quickly made to enter through the window.

From our position in the hallway outside the door, the haligan tool is just being placed in the door jamb when we hear the truck make entry through the window.  The old thick windows break loudly and we now hear our brother pushing the mini blinds aside.  Boots thunder to the floor and footsteps get louder as the lock on the door clicks and the smoke wafts out as he opens the door.

“I gave at the office,” he says as I grab the pump can and go in search of the source of the smoke.  As we converge in the kitchen we hear shouting from the back room.  Shouting about waking up.  Shouting only from our people.  Being the Paramedic, I peel away from the burning pizza making all the smoke and meet the truck in the back room with a man curled up on the couch, completely passed out asleep.

They’re shaking his feet, being polite as can be in an effort to let him know we’re there and his apartment is filled with smoke.  It’s amazing that the breaking window didn’t wake him.  The tillerman and I exchange a look and the politeness is gone as he shakes the man’s shoulders shouting “Wake up! Fire! Fire! Wake up!”

Nothing.

Down in his face. “WAKE UP!”

“Whoa! What?” He sits up defensive, most of the first alarm compliment standing in his living room.  Escorted to the hallway, he is still confused about what is happening and I make my way back to the kitchen to help remove the source of the smoke.  The pick end of the haligan has a number of uses, one of them being removing small pizzas from ovens, so out it comes onto a baking tray and it is carried outside into the rain.

Back upstairs one of the firemen from another company looked around, saw the man we awoke and cried out,

“Let me guess, pizza in the oven?”  He went to the man and held up two fingers, “That’s twice!”

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21 thoughts on “That’s twice”

  1. The best thing about reading your fire stories is that I can now picture everything as it would be, even down to your colleague in all of his turn outs with his two fingers up in front of this mans face!

    I bet it got everyones pulse racing though!

  2. The best thing about reading your fire stories is that I can now picture everything as it would be, even down to your colleague in all of his turn outs with his two fingers up in front of this mans face!

    I bet it got everyones pulse racing though!

  3. The best thing about reading your fire stories is that I can now picture everything as it would be, even down to your colleague in all of his turn outs with his two fingers up in front of this mans face!

    I bet it got everyones pulse racing though!

  4. Useful AND amusing.

    I didn't know SFFD (or anyone, for that matter) used color-coded emergency lighting to identify ladders from engines. That's way useful. I'll be bringing that up here.

    Besides, I always liked the idea of sneaking a green light in somewhere a la Chicago (and, apparently, 'Frisco).

  5. Useful AND amusing.

    I didn’t know SFFD (or anyone, for that matter) used color-coded emergency lighting to identify ladders from engines. That’s way useful. I’ll be bringing that up here.

    Besides, I always liked the idea of sneaking a green light in somewhere a la Chicago (and, apparently, ‘Frisco).

    1. Grumpy,
      From what I can gather Chicago runs green out of tradition. From iacoj.com: Commissioner Albert Goodrich (1927 – 1931) of the Chicago Fire Department had a nautical background. He applied the marine scheme (red light = port, green light = starboard) to fire apparatus, and the idea became a tradition of the Chicago Fire Department. It is also used to mark the bay doors at most Chicago fire stations.

      In the unified command structure it denotes the command post.

      here it lets us know what kind of rig is coming up the block at a simple glance.

  6. Useful AND amusing.

    I didn't know SFFD (or anyone, for that matter) used color-coded emergency lighting to identify ladders from engines. That's way useful. I'll be bringing that up here.

    Besides, I always liked the idea of sneaking a green light in somewhere a la Chicago (and, apparently, 'Frisco).

  7. Grumpy,
    From what I can gather Chicago runs green out of tradition. From iacoj.com: Commissioner Albert Goodrich (1927 – 1931) of the Chicago Fire Department had a nautical background. He applied the marine scheme (red light = port, green light = starboard) to fire apparatus, and the idea became a tradition of the Chicago Fire Department. It is also used to mark the bay doors at most Chicago fire stations.

    In the unified command structure it denotes the command post.

    here it lets us know what kind of rig is coming up the block at a simple glance.

  8. I would think that the bigger ladder thing on the ladder truck would distinguish a ladder truck from and engine, but I’m not a FF so I’m only guessing. Too technical for me, I guess.

    “Food on the Stove” calls always sound more exciting than they end up being.

    1. Our trucks are tillered so the ladder is lower and is obscured by the tractor cab. In the dark they look exactly the same from a block away. But you’d be amazed how many people ask the truck what the big ladder is for.

  9. I would think that the bigger ladder thing on the ladder truck would distinguish a ladder truck from and engine, but I'm not a FF so I'm only guessing. Too technical for me, I guess.

    “Food on the Stove” calls always sound more exciting than they end up being.

  10. Our trucks are tillered so the ladder is lower and is obscured by the tractor cab. In the dark they look exactly the same from a block away. But you'd be amazed how many people ask the truck what the big ladder is for.

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