That night there was a MMA fight on pay per view so we decided to head over to station 54 for dinner and the fight. We enjoyed steak and Caesar salad.I mean it was really good. During dinner we switched on the fight. Just as the second round of the title fight started the tones went off. We, on engine 53, didn't even wait to see if we were going to be on the dispatch. We immediately jumped up and started running for the engine parked behind the station. The race was on to see who would get out of the barn first! Even though we had twice as far to run we pulled out first.
As we turned down the street dispatch informed all responding units that we were responding to an auto repair shop with multiple reports of smoke and flames showing. Music to my ears. We were the leading unit with an three other engines, two trucks, two BC's and a heavy rescue all bearing down on us with lights flashing and siren whaling.
Up ahead we could see traffic starting to slow down. There were several police cars trying to control traffic, both auto and pedestrian. One of them waved us on through and I couldn't help but think that trying to direct us was kind of like trying to direct a herd of stampeding elephants headed for water after a long time in the desert. It would be better just to make sure you were out of our way. We're much bigger than you.
About a block out we could see 25 foot tall flames. A bunch of panicked civilians directed us down a side street to where they thought the fire to be. Unfortunately, there was a canal separating us from the fire. As soon as we figured this out we directed the rest of the convoy to the right location. By the time that we turned around and got on scene most of the first alarm assignment was there.
Engine 54 wrapped the hydrant and laid in dry. I jumped off, grabbed the hydrant, connected the 5" hose and waited for the engineer to call for water. It seemed to take forever and a day for the engineer to make the connections on his end of the hose line. Finally, I heard my captain on the radio, "CHARGE THE HYDRANT!!!"
Once that job was finished I double timed it in full turnouts and BA to the fire. When I arrived I saw a long warehouse type building that had been divided up into four rental spaces, each with a roll up door and a man door.
Roll up door number one had been cut and smoke was billowing out of it. There was a 2 1/2" hose line snaking its way into the structure. As I approached the engine I saw the firefighter from station 55 pull another 2 1/2" line and my captain was stretching out a cross lay. The guys from the rescue were starting to cut the second roll up door. I took my place between the two hose lines on the ground, about 10 feet from the door, and decided to mask up.
As soon the door fell free a huge fireball exited the building coming straight for us. The firefighter that was on the nozzle of the larger line wasn't masked up and quickly handed me the line. I wasted no time, started beating back the flames and made entry into the shop. My captain followed me with the smaller hose line.
The entire shop was filled with flame. About five minutes after entry the fire was mostly out. Now we took our time looking for hotspots. After the smoke cleared we could see several things. First, the roof had partially collapsed in the rear section of the occupancy, thankfully without anyone on or under it. Second, the fire had completely destroyed the wall separating the first and second businesses. And third, we saved almost all of business number 1, 3 and 4, including the cars inside the shop.
Four hours later we were released by the fire investigator. It was time to hit up 7-11 and get a slurpee to celebrate a job well done.
The next day I noticed that tar from the ceiling had melted and dripped all over my turnouts and helmet. Battle scars.