Thursday, March 4, 2010

Report From Ladder Company 40 Day 164

Hi Team!


WOW I am TIRED!!!   :)   And happy!  Last night at 10:45 pm we got a call for a structure fire.  Reported to us as a garage fire that moved into the house.  I woke up fast enough to get the light on, grab paper and pen and get the address written down before Our fearless leader finished the PTT call out.  Then I radioed back, "This is Flash.  I am responding!" 

The fire was less than three miles from my house.  My heart was pounding as it sunk in that this was a working fire.  I remember thinking, "This is silly that I would get so excited.  I'm not going to FIGHT the fire.  I'm going to support the guys who do."  Still, I was excited.  My husband chatted with me briefly as I threw my clothes on and got ready to head out the door.  

"Be careful," he said.
"I will, but my job isn't dangerous, you know." I replied.
"I know, but drive carefully, and you never know what can happen," he answered.
"Yeah, I know."  As I tied my shoe I looked up at him.   "Wanna come with me?"
"Are you crazy?  I'm going back to bed!"

I ran out to the car and opened the back, grabbed my orange turnout coat and threw it in the passenger seat up front.  It had the Fire Department ID on the front of it and I knew I might need it to get past police blocking intersections near the fire.  I "raced" down the road.  (Actually I drove the speed limit because I have no special privileges, but with the streets fairly empty, it was kind of racing.   My heart was.  I certainly wasn't dawdling!)  About half way to the fire I found myself on a main thoroughfare following about two blocks behind a fire engine running lights and sirens.  We were headed south.  The fire was ahead to the south west of where we were.  About three blocks from where it will be necessary to head west, the fire engine pulled over on the east side of the road.  I thought, "?????????"  and then as I passed I saw them hopping out, removing turn out coats and heading into an apartment building.  Ah, another call.  Not a fire.

When I got to the intersection where I would need to turn west, it was full of smoke hanging low.  It was not impeding visibility but I could see that the Fred Meyer parking lot on the south west corner was full of smoke too, and it was fairly heavy.  The light was green for me but nobody was going anywhere.  I thought to myself, "This is weird."  I looked around.  No visible flashing lights except several blocks to the west and they were stationary.    I looked again to the left, the right, in front of me, behind me in the mirror.  Nope, nothing.  No emergency vehicles coming.  The light was still green.  Still nobody was moving.  "Okay people, I am on my way to the fire.  I don't have time for this."  I looked again, all directions then slowly pulled out into the intersection and turned west.  A few blocks down was a fire engine blocking the oncoming lane.  I turned south the block before it and approached the scene from behind.  Surprisingly there were no police cars blocking my way this time around.  (Last fire I responded to I had to show my ID to get through.  When they saw it, they just rolled their eyes at me and waved me through.)  I parked about a half a block from the nearest fire engine.  I did not want to be in the way.  I jumped out of my car, grabbed my coat and threw it on, reattaching my ID badge as I did so.  I shut and locked the car and started heading rapidly toward the fire, in search of the chief to find out where he wanted us.  Citizens were everywhere.  The first couple who saw me approaching stopped me and said, "excuse me ma'am.  Are you the fire inspector?"  LOL  "Uh, no."  I'm laughing inside.  "I'm with the canteen." (That's what it says on my BUTT!) "Oh," they said and I headed off on my way.  ( in retrospect I kind of wish I had glanced toward the burning structure, squinted my eyes with my hand open above them as if trying to scan farther and said, "Yep.  That there... THAT's a fire!  -I would never do that!)  I was the first of the Fire Buff Battalion to arrive on scene.  My car wasn't set up as a canteen unit yet.  I had no water, no gatorade, no cookies and no signage.  I approached the scene and crosed over some small red hose sphaghetti.  There was a gaggle of about 6 or 8 firefighters kind of huddled and talking.  I could see a blue hat (safety), red hat (officer) and a lot of yellow hats.  I didn't see the chief.  I saw that nobody was overly concerned with the citizens milling around close to them also stepping over red sphagetti.  There were no flames visible from where I was in front of the garage.  There was a steady stream of smoke still.  One of the guys in the huddle of firefighters looked my direction.  I could see he recognized me as one of the good guys from the crew that re-hydrates and feeds and takes care of him and his buddies.  He smiles my direction.  I can do nothing helpful yet so I smile and wave and just look cute.  Sigh.  Where is the rest of our crew?  Patience!  "Remember," I told myself.  "You were the closest.  They'll be here soon."  I staood around looking pretty for about 10 minutes before the cavalry arrived but we set up quickly and firemen started coming over before we even finished.  We passed out a lot of water, gatorade and cookies. The chief talked to us and told us what was going on.  He told us how much he appreciated what we were doing for them.  The firefighters thank us, tell us how much they appreciate us, and give us  hard time.  This is great!  They only give you a hard time like that when they like you.  When they accept you like their own.  We were there until nearly one in the morning.

Our crew went to Coffee afterwards at an all night diner.  We shared stories, observations and laughs.  I looked at Mike, one of our crew.  He is twice my height.  (well almost :) )  He has heard abaout the couple that approached me when I got there.  I looked up at him and said, "Excuse me sir, are YOU the fire inspector?"  He looked down the end of his nose at me, towering over my 4'10 inch self.  "Yes," he says sternly.  We laughed.  This is a lot of fun.  I am glad I got involved.

I got one hour of sleep last night.  I did not exercise on purpose but I was very active at work.  I also drank 2 1/2 quarts of water and lemonade today.  Yes! you read me right... WATER!  Okay, fluids, activity, good... that's 2!  I get to count 3 though because i was responding to a call!  LOL either that or 2 + 10!!!

Stay safe!

Hotflash out.