Sunday, December 6, 2009

EVACUATE!! Anyone?

When you are growing up, in school, home, etc. Isn't the typical lesson involvong fire safety and emergency, earthquake, to evacuate immediately?? Yeah...thought so. The latest follie involves those, who couldn't be bothered in an emergency. I was working for a neighboring city, covering their station as they had a funeral for a past fire chief to attend. I was in the utility truck, with my best pals Jake and Ryan. We had a slow day, which involved walking to a gas station, and lunch (thank heavens we ate). We were only a few minutes from getting off shift, when a call came in for an alarm involving "water flow." Typically, to us who take everything worse first, this meant a fire. Water flow=sprinklers trying to extinguish. Or, the less emergent..a pipe break, someone smoked by a sprinkler, BBQ....We jumped in our turnout pants and headed to the call. Now being I worked in this city, according to the address, there was only one way to get to the area in my head, which was to go more north and then south because of the way the subdivisions are set up. This was wrong. We circled around a few times, before finally figuring out it was a business, and finally a hotel. We checked on scene just a minute behind the engine, but still I felt like an idiot. We jumped in our gear, and the incident commander gave us our assignment. My partner Ryan and I headed into the hotel. We went through a side door, to a gush of water streaming down the stairs. We propped a door open to allow it out. We climbed the stairs to the fourth and highest floor where the problem occured. Walking down the hall, was like walking in a shallow river. The water was rushing and about 6 inches deep. We made it to the room where the break had occured, and a fridge was pinned against the door, so the pipe broke with so much force it threw a fridge across the room. We did our assignment, and then doubled back for information on the resdients. No one had evacuated them. Alarms had gone off, water gushing, etc. I know if it were me...I'd be gettin' the heck out. My concern, was the power. We were working on getting it shut off, but we all know about water being a conducter of electricity, so if we had an exposed wire or anything, we'd all (including the residents) be toast. We started up and down the hallways, knocking on doors. Now if a firefighter came to my door, I'd first be embarassed I wasn't already out, but second, I'd grab my spouse and get out. We were met with the same non-chalant responses at almost every door..."what's going on?" "I have to leave?" "What about my stuff?" All while they are laying on their beds since the water is licking at the base of the bedding. They have no idea there could've been a fire elsewhere, and no idea of the electricity situation. This became a long...long process, of evacuating four floors of the slowest people I've ever seen. Then, after power shut off, they wanted to go back in for things. Now, to the high point of the story. Finally, some entertainment you say?? you bet. I walked back into the lobby, in one of my trips in and out, and heard.... "OH MY G--! A FEMALE FIREFIGHTER!! I AIN'T NEVA SEEN ONE BEFORE!!" I looked up, and saw a black gentleman staring at me in awe. I said, "hello sir! nice to see you!" and shook his hand. I kept walking to do whatever our next job was. Then, I'd walk out and would hear a roar of banter from he and his family "there she is!! look at her go!! THE FEMALE!! go PG!!" My partner Ryan just smiling the whole time. At the end of our duty, I saw a news camera following me around. If you are on the news, name and all, you owe the crew ice cream. I hid behind the fire engine, put my air tank away and came out, he followed me more. All while the one family stared in awe at the first female they'd ever seen. I decided to record the news, in case I was either buying ice cream, or getting some free :) It showed a small clip of an interview with a lady saying she had to evacuate. And lo and behold, guess who walks past in the background. The fella who was enamoured by the female firefighter. He threw up a peace sign at the camera and walked past. I smiled to myself, that I made his day, but really, he made mine...

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