Working at a fire station (firehouse to the old heads) is different from most jobs. For one thing we never close (unless a politician does something stupid to cause us to close). We often talk about how we live there and it’s true. A firehouse is a never closing facility that operates to respond to any and every possible call for help from a geographic area or “Local” as we call it. Some places call it a district but in Philly that’s what the police call their areas so we needed our own term. Anyway…

We work long hours. Ten hour day’s and fourteen hour nights. Throw in my commute and I’m looking at twelve and sixteen hour shifts. Overtime can make them twenty-four hour shifts easily. But that’s what it takes to man the station and it’s what we do. Today the bell rang eight times in ten hours. Yeah we’re busy.

There are a few things that get to you like in any job. For example I hate taking runs just before my shift ends. It ensures I’ll get home even later than usual and that means less time with the kids before bed. The other is taking runs before I have my coffee. I’m not a morning person. Never have been. I get up, shower and get on the road early for day work. That means I usually grab a bagel and coffee when I get to the station. I do all my important paperwork and reports first and by around eight o’clock I try to take a break before things get busy. Today I had that feeling my routine was going to get disrupted. I was right.

Just as I finished my last report the call came in: “2300 Ben Franklin Parkway for a truck fire. Reports of a person still inside”. Now if I had a dime for every time a report came in like that and it wasn’t true – I’d be able to pay someone else to write this stupid blog. So off we go even taking the medics along this time. They were in the station for once. As we turned on to the parkway sure enough I could see a burning truck at the other end. The driver picked his way through the traffic and gunned the engine. We were there in seconds. Pictured above is what we found.

Apparently a woman had some sort of seizure (unsure) and hit this tree at (guessing) 50-60 mph. No brakes, no skid marks, center mass. The truck burst into flames and she was still inside. That’s when a couple of Philadelphia Police officers pulled up. Seeing the wreck they called it in, then risking their own personal safety pulled the unconscious woman from the burning truck. Nice work gentlemen. As we pulled up our medics immediately went to work on her. Through the miracle of the (as of now) best medical system on the planet she was stabilized and in a trauma center in minutes, ALIVE. No one asked for her insurance card believe it or not.

Once again I want to point out the superior quality of American cars for no other reason than they are built unbelievably well. This truck hit the tree center mass like I said at a tremendous rate of speed. The bed was a wreck and buckled. The tool box broke free and slammed the back of the cab. The deviation in the front is nearly TWO FEET. Yet the passenger compartment is barely touched. The air bags deployed and the fire stayed in the engine compartment. It is simply astounding that this woman still had a pulse. If I find out any details on her condition I will update the story. I sincerely hope she makes it.

What’s even more scary is that if she didn’t hit the tree this could have been MUCH worse. She was headed straight for oncoming traffic. Had the tree not intervened she would have hit another car (quite possibly a Prius) and most likely head on. Hard to believe but it could have been worse.


4 Responses to SHOP TALK

  1. Ingineer66 says:

    Wow, amazing it wasn’t an instant fatal. I have a question. Are cars catching on fire much more easily than they used to during collisions? A car fire during a crash used to be very rare, but either because of the fuel injection systems or the new lower pollution gas or the ethanol, car fires seem common. Is it just me or is it a California thing or are you seeing it also?

    • I don’t think they are catching on fire more frequently but they do burn more intensely due to all the plastics used. It’s kind of rare to have the fuel involved unless the gas tank ruptures (again rare).

  2. Ingineer66 says:

    Hmmm maybe thats it. When cars were made of steel there wasn’t much to burn. Remember metal dashes?

  3. American cars are why the PA trauma protocols don’t take into account roll-overs and intrusions like that as automatic trips to a trauma center (as opposed to a regular community hospital).

    That said, good job all around to Philly’s precious few civil servants.

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