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A busy week on the fire department side this week

By Andrew Pollack on 04/24/2008 at 10:39 PM EDT

Another structure fire today. This time all the way in Freeport. That's two towns over. At 15:30 or so both Engine 1 and Engine 3 from Cumberland were dispatched to Yarmouth's North Street station for coverage. Yarmouth had an all hands brush fire going on (it is brush fire season here, from now until when things green up in a couple of weeks). We left our Central station with a crew of three and were almost immediately re-directed to the town of Freeport (one town over from Yarmouth) where they had a mobile home on fire and a brush fire to boot.
The run from Cumberland to Freeport is fairly long as fire runs go. About 21 miles. We made the best time we could in a safe way, but it isn't a quick trip.

I had a young guy driving (initials J.S.) and lately he's been with me on several runs. That was good. You develop a rapport with people you work with routinely. Sitting in the officer's seat, its my job to direct the guy driving. Because we're not a career department, its also my job to provide on the job training to the guy driving. The tricky part is that the driver may or may not need the instructions you're giving him. For example, as we approach an intersection with a traffic light, I'm saying things like "stay to the left, slow down almost to a stop...ok, you're clear, hit it..." and so on. J.S. may or may not need any of those instructions. By working together, he's come to understand that I'm not doubting him when I say things like that. He understands that if I don't say them and he did need the instructions then by the time I could do anything it is too late. Its better for both of us if I'm assuming he does need it. The result was that we made very good time to Freeport and did so safely without the slightest problem.

For whatever reason, Freeport was so short staffed today that even as long as it took to get there we still ended up going in on an attack line. This sounds like more than it was. A mobile home fire after 20 minutes doesn't really leave much left to attack. The Freeport guys did most of the work, and we just went in and rooted out hot spots and started 'overhaul'. Overhaul is essentially the process of tearing the place apart digging out absolutely all the hot spots and char. The idea of tearing into a wall is that you keep pulling down plaster and wall board until you expose unburned wood. You do this anywhere there has been fire. In a mobile home, that pretty much means everywhere down to the bare metal. I tore out an interior wall between the living and kitchen areas, for example. Another of my crew (initials S.R.) got to take his first turn in a fire. He's a young guy who came up through the explorer program. I've been part of his training, and I had the honor of giving him his badge and black shield when he turned 18 and completed his training check list. It wasn't exactly a roaring inferno, but he did fine and it was good to have him with us. He'll be a good part of our crew.

Anyway, that's two structure fire attacks so close together, plus the training I helped with over last weekend. Together, it's more firefighting fun then I've had in a long time. It's been a great mental reset, a great way to do some good physical work again, and a great way to break out of a rut.

I wish everyone who reads my rambling stories could have this kind of experience.

There are  - loading -  comments....

re: A busy week on the fire department side this weekBy JP Liggett on 04/25/2008 at 09:44 PM EDT
from a fellow vol'e, the routine experience of helping people in a time of
great need is both rewarding and humbling. The ability to make a difference,
possibly between life and death, is an awesome part of the job.

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