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Monday, May 5, 2008

German Firefighters

On Friday morning an SUV pulled up to the station with four German tourists in it. They told us in broken English that they were firefighters from Germany and that they wanted to take some photos of us and our engine (they were on their way to Joshua Tree National Monument). We showed them the engine and our equipment. They were fascinated at our ALS equipment. I guess they don't have paramedics on the fire department in Germany. We had one of them hooked up to the ECG monitor when a car pulled up. The driver asked if we knew that there was a fire up the road (dumb question...I should have answered that we knew but we were waiting for it to get worse).

Just about that time the tones started going off (every unit in the fire department, including aircraft and hand crews, and all the ambulances have a unique tone). It was the longest set of tones that I have ever heard. We were dispatched to a traffic accident, with a car fire that had already spread into the brush. That's bad. We were also advised of power lines down in the area.

Approaching the scene we were able to see that there was fire on both sides of the highway. Evidently a trash truck had back into a power pole knocking it over. The downed power lines sparked fires on both sides of the highway. We were the first engine on scene and I quickly jumped out and grabbed the bumper line. I started at the anchor point (close to where the fire started) and worked my way down the right flank. There was a CalFire Battalion chief (I think) on scene as well and he help me with the hose. We quickly hooked the fire (got around the front of the fire so as to stop it's forward progression). Thankfully the winds were calm that morning. Calfire Engine 3586 quickly showed up on scene to help us. San Bernardino Medic Engine 121 and Medic Ambulance 121 took care of the north side of the highway. We had the fire under control in minutes.

Turns out that all the tones going off were for two hand crews,water tenders, several chiefs (for CalFire and San Bernardino County Fire), two helicopters, and two airplanes in addition to the engine companies we had on scene. It may seem like a lot of manpower for that small fire but if the winds had been like the day before we would have lost some homes.

View from the engine while responding to the call. There is smoke in the distance on both sides of the highway.

Mop up.

This is a clearance line cut around the fire. In this case it was only a precautionary line cut in case of a rekindle.

Here is the power pole that the trash truck (also pictured) knocked over. This one bush started all the other spot fires on our side of the highway.

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