I was dozing in the common room when the alarm went off, sending me flying off the couch. “Tango Charlie One, fire at 3762 Elm Street, Tango Charlie One, fire at 3762 Elm Street. Copy?”
“Tango Charlie One copies that.”
Looking around, I noticed all of us were on our feet and ready to dash to the door, but the call wasn’t for us. Bummer! I didn’t wish to see anyone hurt, but if it was going to happen, why couldn’t the call be for us. It was a slow night. At least we could hear part of the call to see if it turned out to be anything exciting, since Dave was turning the scanner up.
The alarm went off again, but none of us jumped this time. “Tango Charlie Three, two alarm fire at 3762 Elm Street. Tango Charlie Three, two alarm fire at 3762 Elm Street. Copy?”
Gary grabbed the radio mike as everyone else but me and Dave ran towards the doors. Gary replied, “Tango Charlie Three copies that,” dropped the mike, and ran out to the bay.
Dave and I weren’t far behind Gary, but we knew we had to stay out of the way. The guys were all in various stages of putting on turnout gear. Dave and I helped hoist SCBAs on to some of the guys’ backs, then stood back as the bay doors noisily opened. As the trucks screamed to life, my hands went automatically to cover my ears. The piercing sirens filled the cool night air as the bright yellow trucks pulled away. We stood there watching until the trucks were out of sight.
“I wonder if we’ll get called next,” I said to Dave.
“I don’t know, but let’s see if we can find out more information.”
We got back to the scanner just as the 911 operator came on the air. “Tango Charlie Three, Fire due to COPD smoking and explosion of O2 tank. House fully engulfed. 1 MIA. Will send in S&R only after fire contained. What is your ETA?”
“Tango Charlie Three copies. ETA is 3 minutes.”
Dave and I looked at each other and knew we wouldn’t be called in. It was too late for that. “Well, I guess we can relax. We won’t be called in for this one. We’re not the crispy critter pick-up, and boy am I glad about that. The smell alone is terrible,” Dave commented.
“Don’t people ever learn?!?! If you have COPD and are on O2, then why the heck would you keep smoking? I don’t get it.”
Dave chuckled as he replied, “So whose turn is it to nominate the guy for the Darwin Awards? Hopefully he didn’t reproduce. We don’t need more stupid genes in the pool.”
“Dave, that’s not very nice. True, but not nice.” but I was now laughing. “I wonder if they are going to break out the marshmallows tonight.”
“Well, I’d rather have a GOMER than a crispy critter, though they probably smell the same.”
“Yea, but the GOMER will talk back.”
The banter continued back and forth until Dave and I were both laughing so hard tears were streaming down both our faces. Joking is all you can do in this situation. It’s how we relieve the tension and deal with the stress of the job.
For the third time in 15 minutes, the alarm sounded. “Alpha Charlie Three MVA on the corner of Oak and 10 mile. Alpha Charlie Three MVA on the corner of Oak and 10 mile. Copy?”
That sobered us quickly. Time to get back to work. “My turn to drive,” Dave shouted as he bolted for the driver’s door.
(The names and addresses have been changed to protect both the stupid and the insensitive).
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