Sunday, January 8, 2012

Turning Back the Clock

Before Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to turn the clock back; seeing Michael and doing a ride-along at the station he lives in. It was a marvelous experience; not just to see him again, but the entire visit.

The battalion chief working that day had been a young firefighter at Station 24 when I was a college live-in there, and Mike had mentioned my visit to him. He stopped by the station and we told more than a few stories which seemed to enthrall our small audience, both career and volunteers. The hug we exchanged as he left caught them by surprise. I suspect they saw a little different side of the Chief.

The runs started about 5:00 PM and for the next ninety minutes were non-stop. We never made it back to the building. Another would come in just as we were clearing the previous. These rush hour calls were all medical assists. I rode in the back of the squad, a large walk-in rescue, and Mike had the seat. Recently promoted to Firefighter III on the county integrated command list and with no officers or Master firefighters available to ride as the officer; it put him in the seat.

Later that evening, we took the ladder truck, a 100 ft. rear mount straight stick, down to a local restaurant which was sponsoring a fund raiser for the station. Luckily, but unusually, we were able to finish eating before the next call came in. A box in Prince Georges County was sounded with us as the second due ladder truck. Starting up Route 29, power call yelping, Mike hammered the Q and air horn. The traffic took me back, six and eight cars deep in all lanes at intersections. The Master driving skillfully “encouraged” drivers to move. They scattered like ants, some straight through the light, some left, a few right. Shortly before arrival, command placed all units in service, the source of the smoke at the apartment complex having been located and mitigated.

Back at the station while we were shooting the breeze, the station alert sounded for an adaptive response. More than an investigation but less than a full box, two engines and a truck were dispatched for the odor of smoke. The ladder truck with Mike in the seat again, was first arriving and positioned on Side A while the engine laid out from the closest hydrant. Seconds after I had exited the truck, two ladders were up on the A side of the house and the engine company was beginning to stretch an attack line, the four inch supply line trailing back to the plug. The second due engine from PG came in and stood by the hydrant. It was wonderful to watch; poetry in motion. It wasn’t anything special, but it was fabulous to watch the basics perfectly executed with no conversation or orders. With only a burned up electrical socket to deal with, we were back in service in just a short time.

Our last run of the night was about 1:00 AM; a nice night for the truck crew. That doesn’t mean I slept. Unfamiliar with the station alerts, I woke up for every engine, ambulance, and medic run the balance of the night, of which there were several.

It was a great visit and one I hope to repeat in the spring……with a hotel room waiting for me to sleep in.

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