Friday, November 20, 2009

House Fire...

Ever heard the term "light at the end of the tunnel..." How about, "nudie calendar at the end of a fire..." yeah, didn't think so on the latter. Here's that story. One icy cold winter morning, a page came out for a house fire. Smoke visible. I was at home, and immediately jumped out of bed. I grabbed my shoes and ran out the door. I drove down to the station, as the first engine and rescue drove to the scene. Yep, they confirmed a house fire. I was pulling on my turnouts along with 4 other firefighters at the station. We all jumped on the second engine, and went en route. I sat in the middle of the front with the Lieutenant and Engineer. As we rounded the corner, I saw it. Thick white billowing smoke! We arrived on scene, and immediately checked in with the Captain. He gave me the job of shutting off utilities. Found the power, shut it off. Found the gas, shut it off. As I was finishing, another firefighter grabbed me, and said he needed a partner in transporting a patient. I jumped in the back of the ambulance, and we sped off to the hospital. The patient had some smoke inhalation, but was otherwise ok. We stopped at the hospital for a quick drop off, and headed back to the fire. The initial flare up had been put out at this point, but the fire had crawled all through the insulation. It was the old blown in paper insulation, so it spread fast. Teams went in two by two to search for the existing fire and put it out. I waited my turn.  Captain Jolley came to me and said, "you're going in, get ready.." I grabbed my mask and helmet and went to the engine compartment that held our air tanks, or SCBA's and grabbed one. I put it beside me, and started to take my mask out. What happened next, I will never, ever forget. I had long hair, and felt someone grab my ponytail and start shoving it down my coat. I felt someone else tucking in my hood. I felt someone else pick up my tank and put it on my back. Someone else, zipping my coat. In fire, we are trained to get our gear on and air pack in under 2 minutes. Our department requires 90 seconds. I bet that was 20 seconds. I had 5 different firefighters encircle me and get me situated. I have never felt so loved and taken care of like I did that moment. I was in disbelief that they cared enough about me, to make sure I was suited up right and safe. I grabbed my tool and partner, and as I left them I felt a few taps on my helmet for good luck. We headed in the front door to a smoke filled mess. We had to pull the ceiling down, do find the crawling fire. I grabbed my tool, a pike pole,
and began ripping the ceiling down, oh yeah, ripping it down. There was a section still burning, and one friend told me to come and knock it down. I walked over, grabbed the nozzle and heard an uproar of muffled laughter as all of them laughed at me trying to lift the nozzle above my head to reach the spot I was aiming for. My height mixed with the water pressure, was quite the dance....We all spent the next 4 hours, pulling down ceiling and knocking out the fire. At the end of it all, there was a large pile, about 5 feet or so, of all the ceiling, wall, light fixtures, and everything we had pulled apart. It was a mushy disaster. As we all stood around it, and surveyed the scene, there was something that caught my eye... On the top of this pile, was a poster, or picture of some sort. I spoke up..."Is that what I THINK IT IS??"  To which I grabbed my flashlight that is attatched to my coat, and shined it on the picture. Yep. It was. A naked woman. A naked calendar. Apparently, it was on a wall, and although we had to tear the whole ceiling and walls down, into sheet rock mush, Miss Nude Nellie survived the hose and plethora of fire tools. In fact, she was nestled into the pile right next to the ceiling fan, or what was left of it. After 5 hours of heat, and hard work, I left that scene with the biggest smile I can remember. Was it the donut
I had during my break outside? No. Was it nude Nellie? No. Was it the 5" hose that came apart and drenched the cop from the waist down? No. Was it the brothers I worked side by side with who took care of me, and watched out for me and trusted me to do the same job? Definately.

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