On my last post I talked about a families reaction to a critical injury. Some of that will play into this post, but in a way that a family worries all of the time when their husband or father is in a potentially hazardous occupation. The worries are just compounded because of the injury that has happened, and it doesn’t get easier as time goes on. For example, my accident was on a Friday and my second admission was on a Friday. For about 10 months or so every Friday my wife wold call me a couple of times a day just to make sure that I was ok. It sounds weird but maybe it is a coping mechanism or just a good feeling kind of thing.
This test was going to come in the way of a major structure fire in the downtown business district in the city. When I say city, the business district consists of about 4 blocks but has some very old and nice buildings. The tallest of these buildings is in the heart of the downtown business district and it is called the Liberty Building. The call came in as an automatic fire alarm. there were two of us on duty plus the Fire Chief which is the normal manpower during the day. My partner and I went out the door in the first due Engine and the chief stayed behind and told me to let him know if we needed anything. It wasn’t long until I knew that we would need help and lots of it. I called for a general alarm which means I called all of our off duty guys in to work. We had smoke coming from the fifth floor near the rear of the building. Because there is not a water source for us to hook up to on all levels of the building. I went up to the fifth floor with a fire extinguisher to see if I could slow it down until I had some help arrive. Trust me when I say fire extinguisher is not the weapon of choice when it comes to this type of fire, but it was my option at the time. I knocked the fire down and thought that i had made a pretty good hit on it. I relayed that information to my driver and asked him to send up additional units when they became available. What I didn’t know at the time because of the heavy smoke conditions is that there was another wall that ran the length of the building that was holding the rest of the fire in. I had made my 3rd trip up the stairs when the cavalry arrived and brought the hose lines and thermal imager up to the fire floor. the 3 man crew made up of me and 2 others made our way towards the fire. Smoke conditions were to the floor and the heat was about as much as we could do before we would have backed out. There were pieces of the ceiling falling and making loud thumps when they hit the floor. Fortunately no one was hurt. Once we needed to refill our air bottles we went outside and I took over the job as Incident Commander, which is where I was supposed to be.
Once I was in command this scene became a whole new monster. Command is different because you not only need to do things to mitigate the emergency, you have to do it making sure that your crews are safe. We had a lot of crews there. We needed to call in 6 additional fire departments to assist at the scene. This was a 7 hour long ordeal and of course the news channels showed up as well as our mayor and city manager. The mayor and city manager were very understanding when I told them that I had other things I was doing and I would talk to them when I had a chance.
Part of being in charge is being good at delegating tasks. When the news crew came up to me and wanted to talk about the scene I pointed to my chief and told them that he was my Public Information Officer on scene. He was less than happy that I gave this to him, but I was in charge he can do what he was told.
Once this was over and we finished clean up at the station and had our critique as usual I had a chance to take a break and look back at the days events. I was pleased with the way that the incident went and the tactics used to complete the job. I have passed this test and My Fall to Life was once again looking better