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Friday, August 27, 2010

Running Into A Call

It was 0650. I forgot that it was Sunday and that there would be no traffic so I was a little early. As I walked toward the apparatus bay I saw the tractor-trailer with a bulldozer on it pulling out of the station. As I rounded the corner into the app bay I was greeted by the sight of firefighters getting dressed in their wildland gear. I dropped my bags and grabbed my gear. I threw on my pants and decided to finished getting dressed while on my way to the fire.

As we approached the scene we could see several other engines and crews doing their assignments. We met with the IC and he gave us our spot in which to fight the fire. Before we could put out more than a couple hundred feet of burning fuel, I could feel the ground rumbling beneath my feet. Around the bend came 3 bulldozers. The real workhorses of fires in these hills. Before long the dozers had a good line cut around the 200 acre fire. The CDF crews were working on the hotspots while we were sent to the staging area. After a short wait we were released from the incident.

It was time to go back and clean the rigs.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion

The other day, we had a BLEVE at my station. Thankfully it was on a much smaller scale.

We had used a lighter to ignite the BBQ. After starting it the lighter was left a little too close to the grill. About 5 minutes later we heard a loud pop as the plastic lighter exploded. There were no injuries.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Aluminum Foil?

We arrived on scene at one of our local trailer parks to find our patient (and half of the residents) standing in the middle of the small road. I introduced myself and asked my patient her name. She told me her name was Matilda and that she was 45 years old. I asked her what was bothering her.

"They're trying to control my brain."

Well then. Um. Nothing else is bothering you? "Nope. I just want them to stop."

Thankfully AMR pulled up and rescued me. Two thoughts went through my head. One, who are "they" and why would they want your brain? And two, ever tried aluminum foil?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Gas Leak

Before you start digging a trench in your yard there is someone you should call. There is an organization that will let you know where the the hazards are below the surface.

Seems the backhoe operator at one of our local construction site either never checked where not to dig or had received some bad information (I'm being nice and assuming he's not just a total moron). He ended up digging a trench perpendicular to a gas main that fed an apartment building. The 2" pipe was completely sheared off. The natural gas escaped into the air with a roar.

Once we arrived on scene we did exactly what the construction workers did. Call someone else and a distance. The first PG&E worker to arrive was there in just a few minutes. He in turn did the same thing as us, call someone else and wait at a distance. Finally, after 2 hours, the crew arrived to cap the leak. We had to stay on scene the entire time just in case something bad happened.

My question is why the long calls like this one always happen just as you were sitting down to eat a meal?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Type 4 First In

We were all dressed up in our wildland gear doing a drill. I casually remarked to my captain that now was the time to get a brush fire. We'd be out the door in no time flat. No such luck.

A few minutes after the drill we were going about business as usual in the station and the tones went off, Station 51, brush fire. Of course by this point we had all changed out of our wildland gear.

We quickly donned our gear again and tore out of the station in our type IV engine. We were the closest units to the fire but we were now racing three different departments to get first on scene.
Type 4 brush engine

As we turned North onto the street that leads to the freeway we could see the ominous "header" off to our right. Traffic on the freeway was heavy so we skirted our way along the center divider chirping the siren at drivers along the way.

When we reached our exit we turned towards the smoke. After a few minutes of winding up the road we rounded a corner and saw the fire. We knew what we were dealing with. Light flashy fuels and wind. The fire had a moderate rate of spread.

After getting through the barbed wire fence we drove "into the black" to start our attack. I jumped out of the type 4 engine and started up the pump. After making sure I had enough pump pressure I grabbed the real line and started my mobile attack.Just then the wind shifted and started blowing the flames towards another crew that didn't have water flowing. My captain quickly pulled forward and I jumped right into the smoke. The flames were dancing all around me and I could immediately tell which parts of my skin were exposed.

Once the wind calmed down we really started to knock back the fire. We did was is called a mobile attack. The firefighter walks with the hose to one side and slightly in front of the engine and puts out the fire while the driver follows him. This time I was leading the attack in the type IV engine and I had two type III engines following. This allowed me to move swiftly and just knock down the majority of the fire while the crews behind me would make sure it was completely extinguished and that it wouldn't spread any further.
Type III fire engine.

Once the the fire had been completely encircled the fire crews went through and put out the "smokers" or hot spots. We were very fortunate to stop this one at about 20 acres. It appeared to have been started by a windmill.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Touble In Paradise?

The other day I was at the grocery store with my daughter and we decided to get mom some roses. We also picked out some candy for everyone in the family. While I was standing in line holding a dozen
red roses and some chocolate the man next to me turned and asked, "What did you do?" I told him I was just hedging against future screw ups. 

Friday, August 13, 2010

Commercial Structure Fire

Engine 105, Engine 51, Engine 52, Truck 110, Rescue 3, Battalion 2- Commercial structure fire, smoke showing....15491 Budding St.

The race was on. In such a crowded city the fire stations are separated by only a couple miles. This means that everyone will be nipping at your heels trying to get to your fire faster than you. As we approached the final turn the radio crackled..."Engine105 on scene single story commercial building with smoke showing. Engine 105 going into attack mode, next in engine establish a water supply." That was us.

As we approached we noticed that the last hydrant was quite a ways from the address. My captain decided to drive up to the other engine and to do a reverse hose lay. As we came to a stop I jumped out of my seat. I swung around the tail of the engine and grabbed the 5" hose sending my engine to go get the hydrant, almost 1000 feet away. As soon as the LDH was connected to engine 105 my captain and I were tasked with assisting the fire attack crew.

I masked up and started feeding them more 2 1/2" hose. Once another crew showed up I bumped up the line to back up the firefighter on the nozzle. It was a room and contents fire started by a pump of some sort on one of the machines. It was fairly smokey but not too hot. Once truck 110 got a hole cut in the roof visibility most of the smoke cleared.

Once we had initial knock down of the fire we decided to pull out the 2 1/2" hose and to use the booster line (a much smaller hose) to finish off the hot spots. There were still a couple of boxes of paper that were on fire up on a mezzanine that we missed on the initial knock down. Once the flames were out we overhauled the place checking for hot spots.

It took about a half hour to load all of our 5" hose back into the engine. We cleared the call and returned to quarters. As soon as we stepped off the rig the tones went off again.

Engine 51, respond for a person with chest pain......

Thursday, August 12, 2010


While out shopping my wife found a car apparently belonging to a proud probie.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Good Month

July was a very good month for me. I've had at least one fire every tour. Two wildland grass fires, one spot fire along the freeway and a commercial structure fire.
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