Just before 11 in the morning we went shopping for dinner.We grabbed a shopping cart and headed into the store. As we turned down the first isle our radios beeped the familiar tones of someone getting a call. "District 51, engine 53, truck 51, commercial alarm sounding...." They were playing our song.
We jogged back to the truck the whole time thinking the same thing. We've been there before, often. Engine 53 will get there first. We're going to get canceled. Because of that thought process we all decided to just throw on our turnouts over our wool pants and buttoned shirts. After all, we would only be in them for 5 minutes. I jumped in the rig and sat in the jump seat.
Lights flashing and siren growling we split traffic much like a modern day Moses. The radio crackled again, "Engine 53, truck 51, we're getting reports of black smoke coming from the roof. We're upgrading this to a full alarm assignment."
At that point my first thought was regretting not getting out of my blues before donning my turnouts. I decided I better slip into my BA as well. I went through my quick checklist preparing for a fire. Turnouts were good, SCBA was on with straps tight, mask ready to go, release valve closed, axe belt on.....ready.
Engine 53 was first on scene. They reported having a commercial building with multiple occupancies with roll up doors, heavy black smoke coming from the roof. They initiated IC and let everyone else responding know that they were starting fire attack and could handle their own water supply.
Pulling around the corner we had a good view of the building. We nosed in the driveway behind engine 53. We jumped off the rig and started setting up for aerial operations. My captain chalked the front tire on our side while I set out the plate for the stabilizer. My engineer took care of his side. While he finished setting the stabilizers and getting the ladder in place I grabbed both the chainsaw and the K-12.
Once everything was set my captain headed up the aerial with the rubbish hook. Once at the tip of the aerial he pounded down hard on the roof to make sure it would hold our weight before we stood on it. He would repeat this process of sounding out the roof everywhere we went. I stepped off the ladder behind him I set down the chain saw. We were on a metal roof so the circular saw was the tool of choice.
The roof had a shallow grade and at the peak there were several vents about 6 feet long and 3 feet wide. The super heated smoke and gases were using them as a natural escape from the confines of the building. We decided to help things along. Using the rubbish hook we ripped the thin metal from around the bolts holding the vent in place. Once the the vent covering was removed we cleared the opening of any insulation allowing for a good ventilation hole. Our job done, we checked with fire attack to make sure they didn't need any more holes in the roof and then headed back to the ladder.
The fire was small. It was limited to a vehicle in the auto repair shop and a couple of racks with supplies on them. We were able to limit most of the damage to the space in which the fire started.