April 24, 2012

Fire Call at 5 a.m.

When the telephone rings at 5 a.m., it's never good. Thirty minutes later I am taking my turn on the nozzle, spraying down the remains of someone's detached garage, workshop, and home-brewery.

Then, as the "overhaul" stage of pulling down ceilings and carrying out the remains of the chest freezer and everything else is proceeding, our chief discovers that he forgot his reading glasses, so he hands me the clipboard with the NFIRS forms on it.

I walk up the driveway to where the owners are standing side by side, and I say that I am sorry about what happened, apologize for dragging hoses through the newly planted vegetable garden, and "What is the exact address of this property?"

At that point, I truly feel as though I am in someone else's movie. Psychic dislocation—I'm sure that EMTs, etc., go through it every day. For us, it's just random and sporadic.

I will say this for our crew: We are more used to wildland than structure fires, so people are always looking over their shoulders at the woods to see if flying sparks are starting new fires — and, sure enough, a couple of them did.

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