The dragon and I were in a battle during a structure fire the other day. Fighting fire is quite a challenge at times. Our department was toned out to a structure fire with a garage totally involved and a trailer starting on fire from extension. I jumped into my POV personal operating vehicle and drove to a neighboring town for a mutual aid call. The call came in during the day and was on a week day. Usually in these parts trying to find enough SCBA certified firefighters can be a real challenge.
I heard our own fire chief report that he was picking up the Engine to respond and I told dispatch that I was reporting to the scene. As I approached the scene I could see a large plume of black smoke. This garage was a working auto repair garage and many tires were outside between the garage and trailer. The residents in the trailer were out of the house and two people that were working in the garage sustained burns on their hands. I approached another firefighter that was laying water down in the garage section. There was only two guys and I at first and the one firefighter handed me the inch and three quarter hose so that he could hitch up with the other firefighter from his town to start an attack of the main house. So here I am, the back up man and the attack man on the garage which was totally engulfed at this time. Me and the dragon were in a fierce battle and I was hoping that more firefighters were going to respond soon. The water supply was in short order because only the two firetrucks at the time was the only water we had at first. The two firefighters were going to start an attack of the trailer when a call was made that the water supply was down. We had to wait until another tanker showed up or water supply set up.
I was looking at the fire from end to end of this garage and with the small hose I had it didn’t really seem to knock anything down. There was a car inside which was roaring and everything else inside was cooking. I sprayed water from end to end with the hope of keeping the flames down so that it would hold off from torching the trailer. I kept water on the oil tank from time to time and also removed a propane tank. I would jump from side to side, keeping water between the garage and house as best possible. Other firefighters started showing up and I handed the hose to two other firefighter from another town who responded mutual aid.
The structures were destroyed and multiple family members, like twelve were left homeless. The dragon slayer won the battle but not without I giving it my best shot at the beginning. It is so hard living in a rural community with dwindling numbers in the department. It really is hard during the day time when most people have regular jobs. I’m sure this is a problem all over the country. It also makes it hard to get water established since we are out of a hydrant district. Every fire in our community has to have a rural water supply or rural hitch setup for water at a fire. Sometimes five or six towns are called to have tankers coming. We do practice fill sites and dump site setup but it is still hard when you do not have enough first responders in the first place.
I just wish that more people would join their local fire departments. Some of us are getting older and we need some young guns to help out. Most of the brothers on my department have been on our department for 20 years or more. I am 53 years old and have been on for only twelve years, a young pup when it comes to service time. My days of being a structural interior firefighter are coming to an end soon. I hear of too many firefighters going silent and I do not want my spouse to get a call saying I expired from a heart attack fighting a fire. I do not want the dragon to claim another. Have a good day and feel free to respond in any way about your feelings on volunteer firefighters or departments and some of your stories. Good Day!
©Bilodeau,D.H. 2014 The picture featured is from Sun Journal in Maine.