My First Interior Attack

When I was living in Enfield I was a member of a volunteer fire department. Like every other firefighter in the world I wondered how I would handle myself in my first interior attack. The alarm would go off in the middle of the night and I would drive to the station wondering if this would be the one. Early one morning before the sun came up a call came out for a fire at this local bar, so once again I dragged myself out of bed wondering if this was another false alarm. Well, I had to go right past the place to get to the station and I could see the smoke and flames coming out the back, so I knew this was for real. I was one of the first there (I usually was), got on the truck, and packed up. Although there was room for four firefighters in the back of the truck, we left the station with just two, with an engineer driving and a lieutenant in the officer seat. We knew there would be other trucks close behind.

When we got to the fire we had to break in the front door to get inside, but I grabbed the nozzle on the first line and let the other firefighter do the honors on the door. There was no way I was going to miss going inside. When he got the door open me and the Lt. went low and started crawling our way to the back to get to the fire, and my buddy stayed at the door to feed the line in. When they say you can't see your hand in front of your face they are not exaggerating. It was pitch black. We made it all the way to the back and went through the first door we came to, and right into a closet. We backed out of there and went to the next door which was the doorway to the kitchen and went through. As soon as we got through the Lt. who was using a thermal imager started yelling at me to open up the hose and hit the fire, which I still couldn't see. Being a good firefighter who could follow orders I directed a line of water inside, and immediately got shot straight back out the door I had just crawled through. We didn't know it at the time, but this was an arson and diesel fuel had been spread on a tile kitchen floor. Very slippery. The hose had acted like a jet nozzle and pushed me right along the floor and back out the door. Anyway I crawled back in, wedged myself in the door, and opened up the line again. Now the Lt. is yelling for me to turn to the left, which I did, and immediately got blasted with my own water jet. We couldn't see it, but there was a stand up pizza style stove right next to the door and it just sent my entire stream right back at me. We worked our way through a little farther and I finally got to the flames, which were set in an office area behind the kitchen. It turns out that the kitchen had a metal ceiling that showed hot in the thermal imager, and the Lt. thought he was seeing flame in the whole kitchen. We had recently gotten the imager on a grant, and this was the first time it had been used, so we learned a bunch that night. The next morning people couldn't even stand on the kitchen floor, it was so slippery. That made me feel better at the time about getting blasted through, and really it was pretty funny.

I learned I could handle the interior of a burning building just fine, and so did the officers of the station. The last structure fire I went to as a member of that department before I moved out of town I was the only one in the back of the truck. The captain in the officer seat had enough confidence in me that we went in alone and got a good start on the job before being joined by the next truck in with more manpower. That makes you feel real good. Anyway, that's a picture of that first fire. You can't see me, but I'm on the other end of the line going through the front door. This next picture shows me in my gear in the station after a call. By then I had seen enough action that although the gear is relatively new you can see that it's been through a bit.