Monday, 1 April 2013

The Number 1 Craziest thing I Have Ever Done

                        #1 Becoming a Volunteer Firefighter

That's me #28 and Yes that fire was HOT!
        Many of you already may know this about me. But for those of you who don't, I am a Volunteer Firefighter going into my 13th year of service, I am a proud second generation firefighter with My Dad having 32 years of service and is my Stations District Chief. I am also lucky to have my brother Sam on the department as well. We have a very busy station, on average we run 365 plus fire calls a year, plus weekly training, public education and equipment maintenance(Then our full time jobs and families ). Our emergency calls ranging from Medical Emergencies and Motor Vehicle collisions to full blown structure fires. In my 13 years I have seen and done a lot of crazy things. One thing stands out to me, one memory so vivid and haunting I can actually feel the adrenaline rush as pride starts to tingle throughout my body.

     I felt like I was on top of the world everything had worked out right, the adrenaline was pumping so fast in my veins. I started to get undressed to go check on my partner as another guy started to help me get my gear off, he had a huge smile on his face as I told him what had happened up in the apartment, then as I took off my mask his smile changed to a look of concern. He said, "Chris, you took on smoke" Stunned by what I just heard I replied "What!? I did?." I said as I looked in a mirror. I grabbed a bottle of water and splashed it on my face and rubbed the soot marks from around my face and nose, as if to pretend it didn't happen. I felt sick to my stomach, I wanted to throw up...                    
                                                               Twenty Minutes Earlier

   Long Weekend Monday in September about 4:00 in the afternoon, our station received a call for a structure fire with occupants still inside, just off the main street. I made it to the station to make the Aerial, it happened to be the last truck leaving the hall. My heart was pumping big time as I grabbed my gear and hopped into the tight back seat space. I knew it was going to be tough to get dressed quickly but that day for some reason it went smooth and I was fully dressed by the time the 5 minute drive was over. I hopped out of the truck to a 3 story Apartment building with Heavy Black smoke coming from the second story apartment. I quickly made my way to entry control. One of the firefighters was undressing he had forgotten to put his balaclava on and was stopped at the stairs, I came up fully dressed and just like that I was the new Senior Firefighter on the first entry team. I felt like I was in the Foo Fighters video for "My hero" going up the 2 sets of stairs to the apartment.

     Reports from other building residents was that they heard a scream and a thud come from this apartment. We busted down the door that entered in to the kitchen. On our left was the oven and it had a radio on it that was on fire, giving off the blackest thickest smoke I have ever seen, we proceeded with a primary(quick) search and left the fire for the next crew in,so we could search for the possible victims, we went with a left hand search which means we followed the left side of the kitchen to look for this person. We found ourselves at a small door entrance. It lead into the bathroom it was 4ftx8ft with a tub and a small linen closet on the left. The smoke was really thick and black I could barely see and it got worse as I stuck my hand in a kitty litter box.(YUCK!) . All of a sudden, my partner in front of me stopped at the bath tub and starts yelling to me "I got a body! I got a body!" In disbelief I jumped over to help him. We grab on to this person (A Male) to get rescue him, until he started attacking us!(That wasn't in the training manual!) That's when I got my first clear look at the victim, as my partner and I grabbed his arms and his legs and we lifted him up and started for the door, those seconds went by so slow, I remember still not believing what was happening. I also remember this guys eyes were very very white and his skin was filthy black from the smoke and soot. Things took a turn for the worse when we were steps from the door, my partner tripped over a vacuum that was in the middle of the floor. All 3 of us were on the ground. We had bumped both of our face masks pretty hard and my partner was no longer calm, he had taken in a deep breath of the black smoke and had begin to panic. I yelled at him to calm down. Thankfully by that time help had reached him and our as other firefighters were waiting to help us at the door.  They grabbed my partner and pulled him out, as I stood up and grabbed the victim with two hands and ever so gently placed him into the arms of the other awaiting firefighters. I felt like I had just won 1 million dollars, my training had paid off. I had a smile from ear to ear. My partner and I with some help had just saved that mans life.

Article from Alliston Herald.
Pictures From Flashover Training. 
     After realizing I had took on toxic smoke,the adrenaline wore off. I had developed more of a cough and was worried. So I went to the hospital to get checked out by a Doctor just like my partner did. Thankfully both my partner and I were treated and released from the hospital that day.

   The pride I feel re-telling this story far outweighs the concern I had for my own well being following the incident. They say to be a volunteer firefighter you have to be a mix of brave and crazy. I can proudly say volunteers everywhere serve their communities in ways people will never understand or even know about. This call is 1 of near 5000 we have responded to, and luckily a life does not hang in the balance everytime we respond, but when it does this is how we like to see it end, "everyone goes home".

Score one for the good guys


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