...Truck 105, respond for a report of a fire.....
It was the third or fourth false alarm this shift. It was getting old. I was itching for another fire (I shouldn't really be complaining because I get a lot more of them than some of the other guys on the department). After we pulled into the station went through my routine of doffing my turnouts and hooking up the plymovent to the exhaust. While doing this I informed my captain that I had reached my quota of false alarms and I would not be responding to any more without first have a structure fire. He assured me that the next on was going to be good.
About two hours later the structure tones went off again. Despite what I said earlier I was still excited to get dressed, dive into the quint and head out to a possible structure fire. As we headed out of the barn dispatch informed us that we were headed to a commercial kitchen fire with smoke and flames showing. Music to my ears. Better still, it was in my district.
My heart sank a little as I looked out my left window towards the call and didn't see any smoke. I was sure someone had extinguished it themselves. Then we turned towards it and my view was obscured.
About a block out my captain said those magical words, smoke showing.
As we pulled into the parking lot of the banquet hall I noticed a group of people standing and watching. It would be a fun show for them, assuming they weren't the owners of the building.
The quint came to a stop and I hopped off. My boots were on the asphalt before the air breaks released the air in their system signifying that they were locked. I rounded the front of the apparatus and got my first look at the building. There were a set of double doors leading into the structure that had thick black smoke rolling out of it. There were also a couple of windows mimicking the door.
I grabbed the 1 3/4" crosslay and headed first away and then toward the door, hose paying out behind me. My captain was doing his size up of the situation and establishing IC while I masked up. Just as I finished masking up I turned to see my captain realize that I was ready and he was not.
While he masked up I decided to go on air and take a step into the enveloping black smoke. The double doors from the outside led to an anteroom. There I found a set of open double doors straight ahead which led to the hall and a set of open double doors to my right leading to the kitchen, and the fire. The smoke was down to about waist level so I bent down to look under it. I could see that the entire back half of the kitchen was aflame.
With my captain behind me I made my way into the kitchen. Just as I stepped inside I heard my engineer yell that there were propane tanks inside. The flames on the back wall were from floor to ceiling. I moved around the left of the large table in the center of the kitchen toward the seat of the fire. A few moments later the fire was out. There on the ground was a propane tank, charred black. I cooled it off and then turned it off. Moving around the other side of the table looking for hot spots I found a second propane tank which I also cooled and shut off.
Other crews had set up horizontal ventilation, giant fans at the doorway to blow out the smoke and heat. With better visibility we could now see what had happened. Someone had decided to use a pair of deep fat fryers inside. Something caught fire and it quickly spread. During overhaul we found a third propane tank. Thankfully none of them bleved. The two with direct flame impingement were open and able to off gas which probably helped.
By the time we were done with overhaul and reloading our rig there was just enough time to shower and get dinner. I'm ready for another one.