Nothing says 4 day break is over like a working fire!

Yea… welcome to lucky #13! Well, I guess I shouldn’t say it like that because in a couple ways this morning I guess I really was lucky. It may take me a minute or so to get to it so hang with me. This 4 day break was a much needed one. And I should have figured today was gonna be rough because my break went so well. I’m used to any and everything not going my way or as planned so I should have known something was up following a very relaxing evening yesterday. The weather here has changed to cool and windy … or when you’re my size; that means COLD and windy enough to relocate ya. Anyhow, taking the weather into consideration, the  Buckaroo and I decided to take the evening off. We packed a cooler and headed up the mountain for a little R&R. The mountain behind the house is a GREAT get away. There’s a group of us on the road who spend most evenings telling the unbelievable tales of the day at a neighbors garage / shop over a few adult beverages. That neighbor happens to own a nice piece of land on the mountain and for about the last year or so, we have been building a cabin on his place. Blood, sweat and every piece of scrap or donated building material we could find has gone into it. She’s not quite finished yet but is coming along nicely. The perfect place to look out over the valley, forget all your problems and just sit back and enjoy the piece and quiet. Here are a few shots..

That’s the view from the top looking down to my place…

The buckaroo has a new favorite … fried bologna and cheese ummmm ummmmmmm! So, you can see how the last part of my 4 day was VERY relaxing. That would all change! The full moon last night might have been a clue. When I got here and the off going Captain said they haven’t had a run in his last 2 tours… THAT should have really set off alarms. Ol dumb a** me, I came on in and made egg sandwiches like it was business as usual. Then, at 08:40; we got the call. The 4000 blk of whatever street multiple calls with flame and smoke “everywhere”! We cut the corner and I can see heavy smoke banked in the street up ahead several blocks. I mark a “working fire” from there to get additional companies on the road and advise that I will give a better size up and details upon arrival. Now, Georgie is off, Boots has the wheel and we have old McDonald filling in from Station #5. We roll up to a 2 story, wood frame, family dwelling with heavy smoke from Bravo, Alpha and Delta. I give the size up, call for the hydrant and go to work. While making the 360, I was met by an occupant who could / would only state “upstairs”. No matter what I asked… “is someone still inside”… “is everyone out”??? I got “upstairs”. I got McDonald and we made the stretch through the rear and up the narrow steps to the 2nd floor. A 640 sq ft. home sheeted with 1/16 panelling. High heat, and zero visibility… BLACK, but no visible fire! The construction of the 2nd floor (knee wall partitions) along with the construction material (panelling) allowed for the seat of the fire to remain hidden in a dead space behind a knee wall. The construction also allowed for the fire to intensify, run the studs and extend across the rafters above us and on to the other side and rooms (all still hidden at this point). Finally,just before flash over; the fire breaches the panelling and shows itself at the knee wall (parallel with the steps up). We open up and start hitting the fire. That pushes the fire like a blow torch through the dead space, into the stairway / hall and up behind us into the adjoining room. It’s hard for me to explain here but basically, the upstairs was 2 rooms divided by a chimney up the center. We were pushing the fire in a circle right around us. Ladder 5 had opened her up but at the time, ventilation wasn’t taking affect. I don’t mind telling ya, it got a little rough for a minute but, we held our ground until the calvary rolled in and we soon had it under control. Afterwards, you get the chance to see exactly where you were and what you were facing even though you didn’t know it at the time. The situation with pushing the fire reminded me of a close call our Southside Brothers had over on Greenbriar a year or so ago. Then other thoughts / lessons came to mind. You always hear (and rightfully so) “know building construction” … aka “our own worst enemy” etc. Well, I knew the construction.. the basics anyway.. but is that enough?  There was no way I could have known that the walls were covered in panelling with little to no insulation. No way I could have known about the remodel and knee walls. The dead space beside the stairs creating a chimney effect. Then there were other factors and / or potential disasters. Propane heating / cooking devices in the kitchen. The upstairs room had automotive tires stacked and used as a make-shift table (a tire fire inside a residential structure). WOW! The chimney effect caused by the construction almost burnt our attack line in half! I didn’t / couldn’t see it at the time. Can you imagine the smoke condition with tires burning inside a 640 sq ft oven?  Lucky we stopped it before it got any worse or to the propane tanks down stairs. LUCKY #13 .. yea.. she was today. Now, I know all this sounds kinda bad. On arrival, it looked like a “gonna taste bad” bread and butter. As it turned out, it was a little more than that BUT all the companies involved put in some solid work. No injuries (to firefighters or civilians), flame damage contained to the 2nd floor with smoke and water damage throughout. I only share this story with you to get / keep ya thinking. Knowing your enemy or building construction is so much more than type I, II, III, IV etc. Living conditions or “household short cuts” due to economic cuts etc these days can produce hazards we haven’t seen or even considered. I say more than building construction, KNOW YOUR TERRITORY. Get in these buildings / houses every chance you have. I know a lot of folks cringe at EMS runs but that’s a great time to see what’s on the inside of the places we run. Pay attention, learn the layout, observe materials used, correct problems, notify those who need to be and give yourself, your company and fellow Brothers and Sisters every advantage. Ok, you get the point, here are a few shots from this morning and local media coverage here

The 2nd pic shows the propane tank and burner. The 3rd give a better visual of its location. The door to the left of the stove is the side Charlie door that we made entry through.

The 2 pics above here show the car tires in the upstairs bedroom and what’s left of our attack line after the “blow torch” effect from the dead space behind us.

Above are a few shots of the companies “taking up”

And that’s me and my fill in from #5 Brady McDonald.  Those of you who follow me regularly will know that this was my 1st “working fire” since being relocated to #13. I have said multiple times that the crew here is no stranger to me and that the transition has been smooth. Today, I didn’t even have my normal “new” crew. Now, I have been on a lot of fires with Boots but we have always been on different companies. I have been on several with Brady as well but again, he was always on another crew. They both preformed well on those fires but it wasn’t with “me” or my company. Boots has pumped hundreds of fires in his career.. but again; not for me or my company. I have to admit, I felt “off” this morning. Maybe not so much “off” as not “as comfortable”. I’m used to “my boys”. We have been together so long that we worked hand in hand with limited communication. They knew what I expected, they knew my tactics, where to be etc. I never had to think twice or 2nd guess anything with Bugg, Coon, Opie or Wheezy beside me. I knew them but, more importantly; they knew me. All that said, both Boots and Brady did a great job this morning. Brady made a good stretch, hung right with me and took a beating. Excellent nozzle work. Boots sent the water with perfect timing. He had 3 lines off, a 5″ supply. Ladders, irons etc. everything flying off our rig but it’s not the crew I’m accustomed to. Lt Bugg was on the fire this morning as the Officer on E5. While overhauling he says to me .. “your back’s hurting ya today Capt?” I said yea … killing me why? He said he could tell by the way I was standing. He (they… the Melrose Misfits) called it the “horse stance”. One leg locked, the other flexed at the knee resting on the toes. Just by my posture, they knew to steal some work from me cause my back was sore or I wasn’t at 100%. It’s the little things like that which make a company! I know I’ll have that again but I don’t right now. I can’t having only been here 2 cycles. The man power shortages, cut backs and transfers just put us further out of our element and more at risk. They were even pulling members from our scene today to send to a 2nd call in the downtown area! Pulling from one to cover another??? We hadn’t even given “under control” yet!  UGGGGGGG!!!!! Ok, so I guess I’d better throw in a shot of Bugg as well …..

Ok, I’d better stop this rant while I can. So, the rest of the day has been clean up, reports and more runs. As I’m typing, our brothers and sisters from Stations #5 and #2 are out on another fire in lower North West.  We will most likely have to “move to cover” another station so I’d better type quick. The early fire had us behind in shopping so we elected to eat out. While eating we got to meet a young fellow and his 2 older sisters (neither looked old enough to be his mother). Apparently little Evan (I hope I remembered his name correctly) LOVES fire trucks (another “run to the curb” kid) and wondered what the chances were of maybe getting a tour of the rig?? …… 100% !!! The little fella sat in every seat, touched every piece and even blew the siren. I’m pretty sure we made his day .. and truth be know; he made ours a little brighter as well.

Ok, so things are picking up around here so I’d better cut it off. I do need to give Statter a warning to look out for the newly empowered Firecritic. If you didn’t tune in to last night’s Firefighter Netcast show it would seem as though Chief Kelly Edmison validated Rhett’s comments / concerns etc. Rhett even mentioned several times during the pod cast how he couldn’t wait for Statter to hear “this” or “that”. Here comes the ol “back and forth”…. “he said, she said” again. I wish they’d just kiss, make up and agree that they were BOTH right in their own respect (LOL). Ok, enough for tonight, thanks again for following and giving me an outlet for my ramblings. We’re back Sunday and Tuesday, until then, stay safe and in house!

Captain Wines