Tonight, I stopped by My Captain’s firestation to bring him lunch for tomorrow (He’s working a 36 hour shift). When I got there, he was not…he was on an EMS call. As usual, it came as he was just sitting down to dinner. I sat down to wait for him to come back, and had a nice conversation with Lt. Tom. I love that guy. He is SUCH a good cook that we swap recipes. (Firehouses are notorious for their awesome cooks.)
Tom and I were discussing the pros and cons of Pastry versus Potato Hash in Egg Pies when My Captain walked in. His untouched dinner was still on the kitchen table and he was ABOUT to sit down to eat it when….
….the alarm bells went off again. This time it was a fire. And by fire, I mean FIRE.
So off he went, barely having time to brush his lips with mine (***sigh***) as he rushed out the door.
And suddenly I found myself alone in a very quiet firehouse.
Then I remembered I had my camera in the car. I ran over to the printer in the watch office, grabbed the incident information sheet to get the address, and zoomed off to catch my guys in action. For years and years I’ve wanted pictures of My Captain on the scene of a working fire, but I’ve never had the opportunity…and then bam! Here was opportunity knocking!
I felt like an ambulance chaser…only they were firetrucks…and tankers….and ladder trucks…
I’ll share some of these pictures. I’m no photographer, and my camera is cheap and crappy, but if you have got nothing better to do, enjoy!
When I first drove up to the incident, I had to find a place to park that was not in the way, not going to block anyone in, and not illegal. That took a few moments. Annoying I may be; obstructive, I’m not, if I can help it.
My first plan of action was to find Station 31’s crew. I had to use my zoom lense for everything to stand well away. My Captain, as all officers do, wears a white helmet. So whenever I saw a white helment, I looked to see if it was my guy.
Nope. Here is where a different firehouse is establishing and maintaining a water supply. Joe, from my Captain’s shift, was on the first due Tanker and had already supplied the first round of water. It’s up to the next arriving fire crews to bring more. The nearest hydrant was a mile away. It took some work to get that water!
In order to do this, they have to set up some Folding Tanks (which look like oversized kiddie pools). The tankers dump water into the Folding Tanks, and then the engine pumps it up to the fire. And this has to happen: 1) Very Very Quickly, 2) without anyone getting hurt, and 3) effectively! A firefighter without water is, if not helpless, then at the very least, not happy!
Here is Tanker 14, from the station up near where I live. On a box alarm, many fire crews come from many firehouses near the area. That is a Folding Tank you see in the foreground.
Folding Tank with guy running in front of it.
More Folding Tank. You get the picture.
But where is My Captain’s crew? Come to think of it…where is the fire? I see a lot of smoke, but no fire. I asked one of the men. He pointed up the hill.
There in the distance, through the darkness of the trees, I saw more firetrucks up a steep steep steep steep hill.
As in, serious incline, man.
So I started hoofing it up the hill…while 1) staying out of the way of the guys running up it (in full gear, mind you…and that stuff ain’t made of anything lightweight) 2) avoiding stepping on hose and 3) trying to look nonchalant….. the minute the guys see a camera, they all scatter.
And then I turned a corner of heavy woods to find this. Ay Carumuba. I still had to find My Captain’s crew. I asked a firefighter standing on the sidelines if he knew where 31 was and he pointed over to this:
ACK! My heart lept in my throat.
I VERY CAREFULLY advanced to a safe spot, engaged my zoom lense to its fullest capacity, and found my guy. The love of my life. My Captain. RIGHT UP IN THE INFERNO. (And they wonder why I drink.)
There he was, white helmet and all,… this strong, smart, talented hero…. but he was…SITTING. The guy was just sitting! What the Heck!!
But zooming in from a different angle, I could see he was sitting ON something…the hose. He was keeping the hose from snaking around in all the pressure it was under while his firefighter, Brett, aimed the water. You can’t tell from this picture, but they are right ON the fire. It’s literally a couple of feet from them.
That’s my guy. Yeah. The one sitting.
Oh, I am sure he was directing and whatnot, and apparently he and his crew had put a dent in the fire before anyone else was able to get there. They had made what is called a “stop”. They had stopped the fire from spreading any further. VERY IMPORTANT.
When the other companies got there, they took different positions and at the point of this picture, they were in the mode to put it out. That’s Ronald in the back ground, to the left of My Captain. We love Ronald. They’ve known eachother since they were schoolboys. There is a lot of family here.
Eventually the fire was controlled enough, and My Captain’s crew had been on it long enough, that it was time to switch out with another company.
So off My Captain went. They are supposed to go to the Rehab sector at this point to get their heartrate checked and drink water and basically try to reset their tired bodies. But My Captain has other things to do first….check with his Master Firefighter who is manning the engine pump,
Check with his guys to see that they are doing ok (Here’s Brett. We love Brett. He is the guy who had been manning the nozzle of the hose My Captain had been sitting on.)
Give a little more instruction.
Talk pumper strategy.
And THEN go to rehab. And when he did, he found a very sweaty Ronald.
Tired, sweaty Ronald.
And Lt. Tom, who hates the camera more than I hate salad.
And will avoid getting his picture taken most comically.
So they sat and rehabbed and caught their breath.
And waited their turn go get into it again.
Ronald, meanwhile, had found a toy….
No, really he was moving the burned debris around. They have to do that to get all of the remnants of the fire or else it will start back up again, and that is very embarassing.
Back at the pumper, My Captain was talking to a different Brett. One he has known a long time. This Brett’s father was one of My Captain’s mentors growing up. I tell you, Firefighters tend to run in the family.
By then, my camera was running out of batteries, my feet were hurting, I smelled like a bonfire, and I had to pee. So I went back down the hill towards my car.
Where I found the Folding tanks were full and happy.
Wait…what is that thing in the water to the right of that firefighter?
Nope. A duck decoy.
And a basketball. Ok then.
(I found out later that they float those things because they help stop problems when the water starts to swirl and drain. )
Oh there’s Joe! Remember, Joe brought the Tanker. Hi Joe! We love that guy.
Joe had had a hard night. And he was hungry.
Oh wait!!! My Captain never did get his dinner.
With that very very sad thought, I went home and fell into bed. It was near 1:30 AM. When I awoke 7 hours later, I called My Captain, who was still at work (remember, 36 hour shift) and asked him how long he had been on the fire.
He had hit his bunk at 5:30am.
And had to get up at 6:30am to start the next part of his shift.
My Captain had one hour of sleep, no dinner, and was still at work. My heart aches to hear that. Here I have gotten a full 7 hours of sleep, and he is still hard at work. He does this because he cares about his community, he loves his job, and he strives to take care of his family, whom he loves with all of his heart.
God Bless Him.
God Bless all the caretakers and heros out there. And may we never, ever take them for granted.