6.01.2008

Structure Fire

We never seem to get a call at a good time, one where I'm not sleeping. I contemplate this phenomenon as I stumble into the hallway trailing my boots behind me. I come to the conclusion that this might be doable if I weren't always sleeping.

"Hey Sam," the medic greets me, "ready to go save the world?"
"Like always," I reply with a smirk.
On the way, I realize that I've never been to a real structure fire. I went to a fire on the kill floor of the pork packing plant once, but I didn't go inside.
"So uh, what do we do at structure fires?"
"Well, we stand around and look pretty," he winks, "or at least you do."
"No, come on, what do we do," I ask laughing.
"Seriously, all we do is stand there, ask if we can help, help if we can, and then check vitals of the firefighters after they come back out."
"Oh."
"That is," he pauses, "unless there's a patient."

I scrunch my eyes tight and sigh. I forgot that there could be people inside burning buildings.

"This is Engine 2, central, can you expedite the medic unit responding?"
My heart sinks and flashes to terrible images.

We arrive on scene and I can see flames from down the street. The smoke spirals into the sky and I realize I'm holding my breath in quasi-excitement. The fire apparatus is parked neatly in a line, lights flashing in chaotic disorganization. I love it.

"No patient," the chief yells at us from down the street. I glance at the radio on my hip and the one in his hand, and I laugh, saluting him from afar.

I stand awkwardly against the fire SUV and watch it all unfold. A man in a Dominion truck shows up to cut off the power to the downed line. I laugh to myself a little bit, remembering my run in with them before.

Flames lick at the siding from out the window, and pieces of the roof slide off as the fire eats away its support. I can see firefighters standing in the doorway and water shooting out of the holes made by the fire.

I close my eyes and breathe in deeply. I put myself in the house. It's dark, since there is no power. The only light is that of the fire and I can feel the oppressive heat.

"Hey, Sam." My name pulls me from my daydream and I look around.
"Yeah, what's up?"
"We've got three firefighters out. I'm going to go get some water for them, can you check them out?"
"Yeah, I've got it."

I kneel down next to the first one. I blush a little bit, as he's taken me out on a date before and never heard back.
"Samantha, how's it going?"
"Actually, it's Sam. I'm fine, you?"
"A little tired."
His pulse races and he's breathing heavy. I nod as I put the stethoscope in my ears, pumping up the blood pressure cuff. I lean in to read the meter, and I breathe in. He smells heavily of fire. I'm reminded of my days at Girl Scout camps, or roasting marshmallows with my family during the fall. It smells warm and familiar; I get lost in it.
His blood pressure is through the roof, but he shrugs it off when I tell him.

"Your name is Sam," the next firefighter asks me.
"Yeah, why's that?"
"It's actually what I want to name my daughter," he laughs.
"Oh wow, really?"
"Yeah. I like Sam, but my wife insists on calling her Samantha."
"When are you expecting?" I watch him breathe as I check my watch.
"September."
"Is this your first?"
"Yeah, we're pretty excited."
"That's really awesome, congratulations."

The blaze goes out, and I make my way to more tired firefighters. Each new one learns my name and I make some small talk, learning a bit about each of them.

We get canceled from the scene soon after, and head back to the station. I smell my clothes and that thick smell lingers. I really like it, and I imagine myself coming home smelling of fire on a more consistent basis, soot smeared on my face.

A few hours and a hamburger later, the tones drop again.
"Station 1, Station 2, Station 5, structure fire. Smoke and flames showing." The medics look around figuring out the crew, and I hop out of my seat, finishing the last bite.
"Can I tag along," I ask, realizing that trying to swallow and speak at the same time doesn't work out too well.
"Sure thing, kid, let's go."

This one's nothing much, it's out in no time at all. I stand under a stop sign and watch the ones inside and the ones at the engines. It really fascinates me, and I inspect the gauges more closely.

"Oh hey, Sam," I hear from my right. I turn and see one of the firefighters I met earlier in the day.
"Andy, right?"
"Yeah, good to see you again!"
"You too. So tell me about these knobs and dials," I laugh.
"Oh, sure!"
He tells me what each one does and why the hose diameter matters. I'm drawn in to his world, and I don't want to leave.

Carrying some water bottles in my arms, the firefighters approach me.
"Sam, what's up?" I smile and extend my hand with a bottle.
"Sam, it's good to see you again." I nod and offer him one too.
"It's Sam, right? How's it going?" I look around and another one tips his helmet at me. I smile to myself and revel in the glory that is being remembered.

I see the medics waving me back to the ambulance. I trot back out there, and as I do, yet another firefighter waves at me.
"Thanks, Sam, we appreciate it!"

I pull out my phone in the back and call home.
"Mom?"
"Yeah, what's up?"
"I am so ready to be a firefighter."

6 comments:

Evil Lunch Lady said...

Wow for real? Sounds pretty cool to me:)

Rach said...

It's so nice to be welcomed into the illustrious world of 911, isn't it?

Witness said...

When I do rehab, I have the nozzleheads take off their boots "to relax". If they have a problem where they don't clear rehab, I turn over their boots to their chief for them to decide what to do with them. Firefighters won't go inside without their boots.

I don't know why, but I have no draw to the world of firefighting. I've had plenty of bad experiences with a certain firefighter/paramedic agency, but that's not even the reason.

Scott said...

Cool. But... you are very brave! I've sat in an ambulance and watch a trailer home disintegrate in massive flames. I would not want to run into a building like that!

Bernice said...

I have been trying to comment all morning and apparently blogger hates me.

Witness - that is awesome and I would use that tactic, but I have to get them to rehab before I can even think about stealing their boots.

Sam - It gives me warm fuzzies knowing there are awesome medics like you out there looking after our 'boys'.

Medix311 said...

My dad has been a volunteer firefighter since I was very young. His bunker boots used to sit by the front door and they always had that wonderful smoke smell to them. I still love that smell. It's very easy to get wrapped up in the world of the fire service. Good luck.