An Entry from: The Diary of the UK Firefighter

Posted: August 15, 2011 in News and Articles
Tags: , , , , ,

Was running a little late this morning, had a late night and really felt the pinch when the alarm went off. Got to work through the usual traffic in good time though.My bones ache today, i must have slept funny and i don’t fancy doing anything energetic today.As soon as parade had finished, the “bells” went off.”Fire – Persons reported” was written on the turn out sheet – this is the piece of paper that comes out of the fire cat (printer) with the details of where and what we are going to. This was backed up with a shout down the tanoy!Within seconds we were flying through the doors of the engine house.

We are at our ultimate best when we hear the words “persons reported”. This tells us that there are people trapped in the fire somewhere. It is at this point, that the truck grows “wings”. No messing about, everybody turns into the ultimate firefighter. This is the reason we all joined!I was riding BA (wearing breathing apparatus) with our new bloke – Posh!. He still hasn’t had a job with persons reported and he was looking anxious. I reassured him that everything was going to be fine and to stick right behind me throughout. He looks up to me in a nice kind of way, as i have taken it upon myself to take him under my wing.

The truck screeched to a halt and through the off-side window i could see a semi fully developed in fire. Plooms of smoke were pouring from the windows and the fire had already broken through the roof. Posh looked petrified and again i had to assure him that this is where all the training he has had would come into play. “Trust what you know” i told him, “and have faith in your own ability”. He nodded back to me and i opened my door to jump out and grab a hose reel. 20 seconds later we were “donning” our face masks (putting them on). “Start up – test out” was the order given to us from Entry Control. Entry control is the person designated to running the show as far as monitoring the amount of air each BA wearer has, when they are going to run out, maintaining comms (communications) with BA wearers inside the building, what they are doing in there and there exact location in the building, in case something goes wrong.

This is besides having to decide if more resources will be needed, getting emergency teams of BA wearers ready (just in case) and much more. It is a stressful job being an Entry Controller (BAECO, BACO, ECO) other names for it….Anyway, our masks were on and we ran up the front garden with the reel firmly in my hand. The gaffer screamed over that there were people in the front bedroom, and in a shot i was dragging Posh towards the front door. It was slightly ajar, good news, as the fire was already being ventilated, reducing the likelihood of a flash over or back draught. I tested the pressure on our reel (25 bars) and crouched down. In we went, Posh’s head pressed against what felt like my buttocks. I know i said stay close, but not that close! This is common with new inexperienced wearers.

I did it when i joined (let’s be honest)As soon as we were in, the searing heat could be felt through my fire kit. Visibility was reduced to ZERO, and the crackling and banging of fire and falling debris could be heard all around us. I now had a decision to make. Do we go for the fire or the people. Not really a hard decision for me. The people upstairs were the priority. The next team in could sort the fire and at least we had some protection with the hose reel safely in my hands.I felt round in the dark for the stairs, instinct tells you where to go in these situations.

I found them and shouted to Posh that we were going up. We pressed our body’s against the wall and started to climb. We always climb stairs pressed against the wall. This is the strongest part of the staircase in case it collapses or burns through(common sense).I could see flames licking up the walls and over our heads. I fired water at it and quickly knocked the flames down to clear our path. At the top of the stairs, the floor had burnt away, so we had to step over the hole feeling it with our boots. We were now on the landing. Where now? It is incredibly easy to completely lose your bearings in a house fire, not a nice thought when you have to get out before your air runs out as well.I kicked the first door open i came across and we both went in. “Nothing!”, just a pile of dirty washing on top of a double bed.

I think Posh thought it was one of the people trapped judging by his shouts. I confirmed what it was to him and we quickly got out and into the next room. As soon as we opened the door, i heard screaming (female) We’ve got them” i shouted. When we entered the room we filled their only place of safety with Smoke. When they called 999 they were instructed via fire control, to close the door and place sheets etc at the bottom of the door, to stop the smoke coming in. So you can guess what happened when i opened it.I could see a little daylight now as the crews arriving behind us, had put a ladder up and broken through the window from the outside, releasing a little smoke.

Everybody outside knew we had found the correct room, as plooms of smoke poured out the windows upon our entry. Two women aged about 50 (saw them later) were in the room flailing their arms and panicking in the thick acrid smoke.I grabbed one of them and dragged them to the window. Posh grabbed the other. Then with all my strength i lifted her from the floor towards the open window. She was not impressed at all, and resisted with everything she had. I could see gloves coming through the window from outside, “Stealth” was on the ladder outside,(my oppo)I thrust upwards and outwards with everything i had and she was through. “Stealth” grabbed her and carried her to safety down the ladder.

I turned to assist Posh, and found he had done exactly the same with his “casualty” via another ladder. “Get in there!”, job done.Posh had just proved his worth , not only to me, but to the gaffer and the rest of the watch. I couldn’t really fault him – he did very well.When we turned to leave the room, which was now starting to have about 10% visibility, we saw another 2 BA wearers armed with another hose reel. I relayed the message that they were out, and asked them to proceed with locating and extinguishing the fire. We had worked so hard, that our air was about to run out, and we needed to get outside.

Once in fresh air, we removed our masks as steam poured from the top of our heads.Steaming hair, is very common after a house fire and you remove your mask and helmet.We reported to Entry Control and briefed him on our actions. Posh got a pat on the back from most of the lads, and i think he took great pride in what he had just achieved. After all, most of the public think he’s a hero now, but i don’t want to let it go to his head just yet, as i need WATER.It is possible to lose approx 1 litre of fluids in a good fire. Therefore hydration is a big factor in our role as firefighters. Even the toilets at station have urine colour monitoring charts in them, so we can keep an eye on hydration levels.

After gulping down tonnes of water, it was back to the truck to service our BA sets and get them ready for the next incident. (new cylinders etc)We passed a copper on the way back to the truck, who said “that’s what you joined for isn’t it boys?. He was right, it was. A wry smile came across my face as i thought about what he had said.Once back at station we had a chat about what had gone on, had a cup of tea and believe it or not the bells went off again “Fire – Canal Embankment”The doors opened again and off we went. At least the truck wasn’t going to grow wings again just yet!After that we had a quiet afternoon and when the shout “59” came over the tanoy, i was ready for an ice-cold pint of Stella, which is exactly what i had with the boys in the local pub down the road.”Ahhhh, Nectar!”More tomorrow

guys………………Firefighter XTo follow the daily life of a UK Firefighter, please visit my Firefighter UK Blog at:

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