SHOP TALK

Three lines. I guess the media considers that fair coverage of public safety.

PHILADELPHIA – July 31, 2011
(WPVI) — A fire left a Frankford home in ruins Sunday afternoon. The Action Cam was on the 1600 block of Haworth Street. There were no injuries reported in blaze which had started shortly before 4:00pm. The cause is under investigation. LINK

There is something about firefighting in the summer. I think it’s the heat. This fire broke out just before the end of our shift yesterday afternoon. The heat of the day was probably at its peak. We hadn’t gone two blocks when the alarm room upgraded the call. We knew then we would be going to work when we got on location. Sure enough the report from the first in company was heavy fire extending across the porch front to the adjoining house. We now had two houses going.

As usual we were delayed by traffic and a SEPTA bus that refused to get out-of-the-way. I know there aren’t many options under the “El” but bus drivers and cabs in the city typically don’t go out of their way to yield to emergency vehicles. I’ve had them stop to pick up and let off people while we are stuck behind them lights and sirens wailing.

Ladder 15 was first in on this job. They had to wait for Engine 52 to come all the way from Wissinoming since the Nutter administration closed Engine 14 (they were in the same station as Ladder 15 , around the corner just a few blocks away). They would have been there in half the time). No matter I guess. The house next door suffered a lot of damage unnecessarily because of that. Lucky it wasn’t 2AM when everyone was sleeping. There was no escape through the front door of either house due to the heavy fire on the porches. The rest of the house was packed with smoke. I had to use my SCBA (air tank) to make it through to open the back door in the house next door. Anyone without a pack on would have been overcome.

It was the heat that kicked everyone’s azz. Big Jerry in our engine looked destroyed. Sweat was pouring off him and he was soaked through from working the hose (he did a fantastic job as always). My guys were soaked with sweat and exhausted from moving ladders, breaking windows and overhauling the burned out houses wearing 70 lbs of gear in the blistering heat. The temperatures inside the burning houses was just brutal. Everyone of our guys was spent. Even so they made a fantastic stop. There was fire showing when we pulled up. Within a few minutes they had it knocked down and were making their way inside. Just moving under these conditions is hard. You pull a lot of muscles, lose a lot of weight and are generally exhausted. It’s not over though, we’re back in tonight.

At least the sun will be down.

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8 Responses to SHOP TALK

  1. Kim says:

    One thing our assistant chief insists on is on the way to the fire make sure you down a bottled water. I’m sure you already know that.

    Another thing a lot of people out here do (and I don’t know how available they are there being a city) is they suck on a rabbit mineral spool. (I know it sounds strange.) It replaces mineral loss much better than gatorade or other sport drinks. Being pulled off the line for water, the guys grab the thing out of their pocket and suck on it for a few seconds. (Roofers and farmers do the same thing around here.) For some, it is the difference between dripping sweat and feeling like the heat has kicked your a$$ and complete collapse into unconsciousness.

    http://www.rabbit-cages.com/8in1-trace-mineral-salt-wheels-with-holder.html

    They are 40 cents a piece at the local feed store.

  2. Old NFO says:

    Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!!! Gatorade for all 🙂 We used to run a ‘canteen’ truck to fires in the summer just to support the firefighters in Florida.

  3. bob (either orr) says:

    Stay safe.

  4. Cs says:

    There is more to rest and rehab then a bottle of water. You guys do an impressive job at fire supression but shirk rehab. We need to stop being reactionary, use the resources we have and call in more! Thanks capt for keeping these closures in the “press.”

  5. Just for grins and giggles I “Google” mapped between WIssinoming and Haworth Street. It’s about 2 miles is that correct? It’s a wonder that Philadelphia doesn’t just burn to the ground waiting for fire trucks and Paramedics.

    Keep Cool Captain.

  6. Kim says:

    It seems strange seeing a two mile response distance. Yes, I know all the differences.
    Population
    Manned stations
    Paid firefighters and ems

    I just mapped out our area and (yes, rural, forest, grass and a population of around 500 when taking in all the communities we respond to) from east/west it’s 23 miles. North/south, it’s 17 miles. This is one main station with three substations. And only one bus at the main station. None at any of the others.

    We also don’t have 911. Call comes in: “Grass fire over at county road ___ spreading towards the barns (propane tanks, animals, gas and diesel cans.) It will be the ___ driveway about 1/4 to 1/2 mile past the drunken after you turn OFF the dirt road.”

    Half an hour later, there’s a line of fire trucks and POVs driving slowly with lights flashing trying to figure out which tree became the latest partying tree.

    Or better yet, the guy with chest pains 45 minutes later still trying to figure out which back road off the main dirt road is the one we want since the street signs were taken down.

    Still, I’d rather volunteer with rural than work with what you are dealing with.

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