Saturday, August 27, 2011

Thaere is No Free Lunch

Of course, karma (I don't believe in karma BTW) rears it's ugly head and makes me pay for the awesome day we had on the first shift.

Summer finally came to my corner of the desert and boy is she pissed! This summer has been abnormally cool. First July, then August have had cool nights followed by relatively cool days. There have been a few hot days here and there, but we really have skated through so far.

We knew it was going to be hot yesterday, so the plan was to get the outside stuff out of the way, then try and stay cool through the afternnon and into the evening. We accomplished the morning stuff ok, a repair to a disaster preparedness trailer was completed before it reached 90, outside maintenance was done shortly thereafter. I wanted to get an inspection done before lunch, but a visit from an insurance company rep spoiled that. Finally, we ate around 12:30 and I developed the plan for the afternoon.

Plan "A":: Start packaging up my uniforms, spare PPE and other issued equipment and get it ready to turn in. I don't want to have to count and inventory that stuff on Tuesday.  I also wanted to finish clearing out my desk, work on my locker and start giving away stuff that I will no longer need. The plan was in place and I had found a home for my strike team bag when I heard the tones hit for the next two stations down from us.

Vegetation fire, numerous calls received. Did I mention that it was hot? It was 106 when that call went out, light west wind with 21% humidity. I knew the location, it used to be part of our district until they opened up 14's. Eric (my engineer and recipient of my strike team bag) wandered in. I told him to get his boots on, we were going to get involved with this.

The chief saw smoke from a ways away and called for a second. Our tones hit 2 minutes later.We arrived on scene and were eventually assigned to protect a structure that was out in front of the fire.

 Schmoe, hoping the fire gets pinched off before backing down 
the hill and coming out of the draw. If you look close, you can
crews from Cal-Fire working around the rocks. Due to our
combinedefforts, the fire was pinched off. Eric took this
shot with my camera.

We were lucky in that the fire was going to have to burn back down the hill before it got to us and that the property owner had done a reasonably good job in clearing the brush. When the fire slowed down after cresting the hill, it gave the two hose lays time to pinch it off and the fire never got to us. Several water drops from the State helicopter didn't hurt either.

Still, the process took several hours and it was dinner time by the time we were released.  Naturally, being "the cover bitches" we were sent to another station rather than the healing place. We decided to get dinner at a locally famous sandwich shop and take it to the cover station. While waiting for our food I came up with a plan to salvage the day.

Plan"B" - return to the barn, help the guys wash down the engine and roll some hose. Package the items from above toss some unneeded crap and write a quick post. Plan "B" was in affect for less than five minutes. As we were getting on the engine with our food, we were sent to a structure fire at an apartment complex.

Did I mention that it was hot? I took a weather reading at 1800, it was 102.

As it turned out, the apartment itself was not on fire, but an underground transformer had catastrophically failed. The transformer was located next to the building and as a result, it was decided to evacuate to buildings. Some of us have seen these go, it is quite spectacular when they do.

 We got everybody out, but I had to post my crew at various locations around the building as the occupants kept trying to re-enter the structure.

As the city was blowing up with electrical issues, we had to wait for quite a while before the utilities dept. could make it out and secure the transformer. We finally got released around 2100, rolled into our station around 21:20. I looked at the mess, realized how beat I was and developed another plan.

Plan "C": Shower, hit the sack. Get up a 0500 or so and get as much done as I can before shift change. That lasted until 0130, when a drunk decided to rear-end a SUV, causing it to turn into a bowling ball. Three injures, all minor, AMAs all around. It could have been a quick mission, but as the location of the call was at a bad spot on the freeway, the troopers asked if we could continue to block the scene for them. I agreed, I was fearful for them as well as us. We stood by while the scene was cleared. Sorry, no pictures of this, an arrest and possible litigation is involved, I don't want my stuff subpenaed.

We got back about 0245, it was 0330 by the time I turned out the light. I woke up at 0630 and developed plan "D".

Plan "D": Screw it. Stuff everything into a closet and deal with it next shift. Don't be so anal with a count and all of that, the uniforms are going to be made into rags anyways. The safety gear will be processed by the equipment manager - just stuff it in a bag. Let the chief worry about the rest. Stuff I want to keep, just throw into a box and dump it into the garage. I will probably toss that stuff in a few months anyways.

Plan "D" is the one that will succeed. Whoever said that adaptability is the key to success in the fire service was absolutely right.

Thanks for reading,

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