Last night was one of the busiest nights at work I can remember in many years. Besides a five alarm warehouse fire, there were at least four other significant fires in the city during my shift. One was fatal. This amount of work is taking a toll on the firefighters and the citizens we serve. I’m still a little groggy as I get ready to go back to night work.
For me and my crew a cover up at another station caused us to miss the warehouse job. Right after we started our shift we were sent to Northwest Philly to cover Ladder 29. While there the warehouse fire broke out. We were now out of position to respond so we had to sit tight until Ladder 29 became available. When they did we thought we would be sent to the fire. But we ended up in Chinatown (at my old station). Center City was stripped of fire protection. With ladder 9 BROWNED OUT, Ladder’s 23 and 2 at the warehouse fire there were no ladder companies in town from the Schuylkill to the Delaware. So we had to move again. During this time, Kensington, my area was stripped of its fire protection for a significant amount of time.
We were forced to watch someone elses local because the department is so short of companies we are always out covering other stations. Around 2 AM there were two more serious fires that broke out. One was nearly a catastrophe except for some good work by local police officers. The news reports they assisted in pulling some people to safety. Lucky for those people because the initial reports were of heavy fire throughout the house. Another fire at the same time had the on scene engine waiting AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME (LIKE 10-15 MINUTES) for a ladder company to arrive. A cover-up company was sent to West Philly from North Philly. Meanwhile the property burned and firefighters were stymied in their attempts to keep the fire from spreading.
And the icing on the cake? They had to call FIREFIGHTERS IN ON OVERTIME TO COVER ALL THE VACANCIES! About five companies worth. What more can I say? Read the media reports as the Mayor says everything is just fine with Philly’s fire protection. Unless your house is on fire.