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Monday, November 26, 2012

Strucure Fire, Multiple Callers

Right after lunch we heard engine 59 get dispatched on a smoke investigation. Since it was the middle of the afternoon on a clear day I assumed it was a nothing call. Someone was probably using their BBQ or had put too much oil in their lawn mower fuel or at worst was burning something illegally in their backyard.


Less than a minute later the tones went off dispatching us and the rest of the first alarm assignment to a structure fire in 59's district. Dispatch crackled over the radio as we donned our turnouts saying that they had multiple callers and the fire timer had been started. We had ourselves a working structure fire.

As engine 59 arrived on scene they gave a size up. They had a single story, single family residence with the garage fully involved. They had their own water supply and were starting fire attack. Our BC arrived and took over IC. Engine 59 reported that the fire had extended into the attic.

When we arrived on scene we were assigned to the garage fire. Engine 59 was inside so we would need to make sure our hose stream didn't go into the house from the garage lest we give that crew steam burns. I grabbed the #1 crosslay off of engine 59 and headed for the fire.

Because the wind was at my back I was able to get close to the garage before I masked up. Once my BA was on I got down to business. The 150 gallon/min flow from my nozzle wasn't doing a lot to combat the high amount of BTU's being put off from the fire. The gasoline from the rupture gas tank on the car in the garage wasn't helping any.

A couple minutes later my captain showed up at my side with the bumper line off of the engine. He had noted that we needed more water to get the fire under control and had grabbed the second line. With the two of us flowing water we were able to quickly knock back the fire.

With my engineer backing me up I moved around the the Delta side of the building (in the fire service we label the sides of the building in a clockwise rotation starting with the front which is the Alpha side). There on the side of the building we found what was left of the gas meter. It was hissing and shooting up a fireball about 7 feet in the air.

My engineer and I came up with a plan. I would cover him with the nozzle while he shut off the gas valve. My engineer started to look for a tool with which to shut off the valve. He kept digging into his turnout pockets and coming up with more things. Eventually he found what he was looking for but not before a semicircle of miscellaneous tools were strewn about him like some sort of a mechanical rainbow.

Once he had the tool I switched nozzle from straight stream to fog and covered fireball. I adjusted my stream so that the smoke and flames were being pushed away from the valve. My engineer then reached in and shut it off. It was only then that we noticed a 5 gallon propane bottle was off gassing a few feet away. He grabbed that and took it a safe distance from the house.

On the side of the house there was a wood shed filled with stuff. It was also fully ablaze. After knocking the fire out there I made my way in the side door of the garage and finished off the fire under the hood of what was once a car.

By now most of the fire was out. My captain called me over, we had been reassigned to the roof. The fire was still skunking around in the attic and the IC wanted to get someone on the "good" (that's a relative term) part of the roof to see if they could put out the smokers from up there.

I grabbed the ladder and went to the alpha/bravo corner. I threw the ladder up and climbed. Before stepping off of the ladder I pounded on the roof to see if it would hold my weight in a process we call sounding. I sounded my way up the slippery roof (it was covered in moss) almost to the apex. Up that high the roof started to feel a bit soft. My captain and I decided that there was no point in risking a fall through the roof for a small fire that could be extinguished with an interior line and some pulled ceiling.

Back on the ground we assisted with overhaul. Fortunately for the owners the fire was confined mostly to the garage and attic. It looked really bad from the outside and the fire itself had no doubt looked impressive the the gaggle of people that were watching but a lot of the personal items in the house were able to be saved.

We were cleared not too much later. Back at the station we had to wait about 30 minutes before we were dispatched to another fire. This time someone had set some debris and a couch on fire in the middle of a vacant lot. We hosed that off and doused all the other rubbish and furniture in the area to prevent the Spark from lighting another fire.
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