Andrew Pollack's Blog

Technology, Family, Entertainment, Politics, and Random Noise

Basement fire yesterday -- I got to play!

By Andrew Pollack on 12/11/2003 at 07:55 AM EST

Hi guys.

I swear, tonight or tomorrow another Domino blog -- either technical or strategic. I promise.

This morning I want to tell you about a basement fire. Basement fires can be really bad. Basically, the stairway down into the basement is pretty much the chimney for the fire, so you have to go through the hottest part to get to the fire to put it out. Basements also tend to be poorly ventilated so smoke can be very thick and heat and hot gasses can be intense. Then, think about the things you keep in your basement. The fuel load is usually very high, and often contains explosive properties. A can of WD-40 for example, uses LP gas for its propellent.

Yesterday, at about 2:30pm I'm at my desk when the radio tone calls out for a "Deskbox" for a reported structure fire. Its pretty unusual that something comes in that clearly. Of course, I dropped everything and ran to my truck. Red light flashing I drove to the station and started getting my gear on. Another firefighter got there for our engine (Engine 1) as well. As he was very much senior to me, I drove. The Ladder pulled out just ahead of us with the deputy driving and the house was less than half a mile away. As the first due engine company, our job was to go direct to the scene, leaving Engine 3 to go to the hydrant (on E1 we like it that way). Normally, as the driver it would then fall to me to operate the pump, but the guy with me isn't very active any more (a former captain) and is no longer SCOTT certified (air bottle pack) so he did that and I went around the side compartment and put a SCOTT on, then ran up to COMMAND. After a bit of setup, I was sent in on the attack line. By happenstance, I got the knob (the nozzle). This was my first time outside training to be running the knob, and my first time descending into a basement fire so if I tell you I was nervous you'll know I am understating! When we made entrance and descended to the base of the stairs, there was zero visibility but it really wasn't all that hot. The 'smoke' was also more white than black. You still couldn't see, but it wasn't really that bad other than that. Having seen from outside that the fire would be to my left, I felt along the wall while crawling until I found an opening, and turned left. Nothing. Just a wall of whiteness. I shut my light off and waited, and finally saw orange about where I expected. A little water later the orange went away, so I shut the line down and waited. Nothing. Another firefighter then took the nozzle and (what the hell, I was done with it) and was looking around when B. came up behind me with the Thermal imaging camera. At his direction we put water on a few other hot spots. I directed the guy with the knob to start a hydraulic vent. That's where you spray a stream of water out the window to the side, and the friction draws air with it, creating an effect (the Bernoulli Effect, actually) which draws the smoke out. As the smoke started to clear, B. pointed to my right shoulder -- I wasn't next to a wall at all! There was a burning wood stove not 2 feet from me. The doors were closed but it was clearly on fire. Someone opened the left door, and I opened the right one and we soaked it, then pulled the wood out and soaked that. About that time, my "vibralert" low-air indicator went off, causing a noise and my mask to vibrate (like having a cell phone on vibrate tied to your face). After another minute or so I exited the building, went and got a bottle of water and a new bottle of air. After about 10 minutes or so, I was ready to go back in, and reported to COMMAND again, but pretty much it was all cleanup by that point.

To me, its really cool that this fire was handled pretty much entirely by the "B" team. That is to say our pro firefighters were not the first ones on scene at all, but rather it was us new guys and some of the people who are not as experienced. It says a great deal about those pro's and the training we get from them, that the "B" team was able to get the job done too. True, the house helped us a lot -- the steam was because a water pipe had melted in the basement ceiling and that had helped slow down the fire until we got there -- but still, the house is still standing and the fire was kept to the single room where it started and then put out. Cleanup took hours, but you know -- it was fun. I wouldn't give this up.

That's all for now, I'm headed to Boston. See you guys later.


There are  - loading -  comments....

Other Recent Stories...

  1. 01/26/2023Better Running VirtualBox or VMWARE Virtual Machines on Windows 10+ Forgive me, Reader, for I have sinned. I has been nearly 3 years since my last blog entry. The truth is, I haven't had much to say that was worthy of more than a basic social media post -- until today. For my current work, I was assigned a new laptop. It's a real powerhouse machine with 14 processor cores and 64 gigs of ram. It should be perfect for running my development environment in a virtual machine, but it wasn't. VirtualBox was barely starting, and no matter how many features I turned off, it could ...... 
  2. 04/04/2020How many Ventilators for the price of those tanks the Pentagon didn't even want?This goes WAY beyond Trump or Obama. This is decades of poor planning and poor use of funds. Certainly it should have been addressed in the Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Reagan administrations -- all of which were well aware of the implications of a pandemic. I want a military prepared to help us, not just hurt other people. As an American I expect that with the ridiculous funding of our military might, we are prepared for damn near everything. Not just killing people and breaking things, but ...... 
  3. 01/28/2020Copyright Troll WarningThere's a copyright troll firm that has automated reverse-image searches and goes around looking for any posted images that they can make a quick copyright claim on. This is not quite a scam because it's technically legal, but it's run very much like a scam. This company works with a few "clients" that have vast repositories of copyrighted images. The trolls do a reverse web search on those images looking for hits. When they find one on a site that looks like someone they can scare, they work it like ...... 
  4. 03/26/2019Undestanding how OAUTH scopes will bring the concept of APPS to your Domino server 
  5. 02/05/2019Toro Yard Equipment - Not really a premium brand as far as I am concerned 
  6. 10/08/2018Will you be at the NYC Launch Event for HCL Domino v10 -- Find me! 
  7. 09/04/2018With two big projects on hold, I suddenly find myself very available for new short and long term projects.  
  8. 07/13/2018Who is HCL and why is it a good thing that they are now the ones behind Notes and Domino? 
  9. 03/21/2018Domino Apps on IOS is a Game Changer. Quit holding back. 
  10. 02/15/2018Andrew’s Proposed Gun Laws 
Click here for more articles.....

pen icon Comment Entry
Your Name
*Your Email
* Your email address is required, but not displayed.
Your thoughts....
Remember Me  

Please wait while your document is saved.