So hear I am 3:06 in the am, at the fire hall for the second night in a row. The Assit. Chief, our LT., another fireman and myself, have been standing by at the hall for the last two days, because of the snow we have gotten here on Lookout Mt. Ga. So far we have only ran one call. It was a false alarm at the local collage. Burnt noodles in a garbage can puffed out some smoke and the good people there called 911. As I've sat here the last 32 hours, I have noticed something about myself. I don't care that I have sat here and one had one call. Even after the fact of spending a whole day getting every thing ready for the bad weather. When I was a new firemen I would have been disappointed with the facts just stated. So with all that is our prep. for nothing...No, we are ready for the what if factor. So do any other volly depts. out there do a prep for bad weather, and do you have some of your men stand by at your hall.
I hope so...All our snow has now turned to ice... I am ready to go home for a little while. I dont sleep good when I am here. So I have been up for most of the two days. It will help when we get our new hall finished and we put in sleeping quarters.
My station always preps for bad weather because you never know whats going to happen. One day we had ten MVA's because of bad weather and bad roads. The next day we only had medical calls it seemed. So we always have all of our gear ready and I keep extra clothing at the station plus extra gloves and hoods on my engine just encase someone needs them if they got soaked and need a warm dry pair. As far as stand by at the station... its my second home!
Second home is right. The boys are girls here are my brothers and sisters...We sure the hell fight like that sometimes... Wow 10 MVCs.....no MVCs yet...But its iced over outside so Im just giving it time.
Here in WV, I had to work a 36hr shift due to bad weather. I'm not complaining at all. It is always for the what if. Its a time to relax, but yet be prepared for the worst. At my Volunteer Dept. we have a few guys that stay at the station if inclement weather is coming. During the prep time, we put chains on our engines, check all of our equipment, and we make our truck assignments. All of this prep pays off in the end.
Whenever bad weather is predicted we always double check our trucks & equipment but usually don't staff the station. I tell my members that it is a judgment call for them to make on their own as to where to stay. If they feel safer at the station then they can come or stay at home until we are called out.
All our stations in the county have career staffing 24/7, but when snow storm is being called for there are a few of the stations that their volunteers come in and upstaff the station/apparatus.
Back in the mid 90's we had a huge storm come through and I was at the station for 6 straight days. The night that the storm rolled in 5 of the 7 next days career shift came in early (came in at midnight) we had a 7 person career from that days shift & 5 volunteers came in & we had the 6 live-ins in house all to upstaff. Over the next 5 days we had the 7 person career crew along with 3 volunteers & the 6 live-in volunteers holing down the house. At one point we had county & state plows assigned to each firehouse, they would respond with us on all calls. At some points we had 60% of the apparatus in the county was stuck and getting dug out. We had 26 inches of snow, 50-70 mph winds , major power loss in 1/2 the county, 6-8 ft snow drifts. The whole Washington D.C metro area was under a snow emerg. for a week.
Anytime the forcast calls snow all the stations & county start making preps for the snow, Alot of off duty career FF's come in early so they make sure they can get in intime for their shift, Alot of the volunteers come in for additional in-house coverage. Anytime the forcast calls for a foot or more the county assigns snow plows to stations to help respond with us, clear the way & assist our utilities with getting to pts & incident scenes. Last year during the 2 multi foot blizzards we even had the National guard with Hummers responding out of our stations.
One of our neighboring companys (different county) had to hold down the fort in their area for 36 hrs with no help last year during one of the blizzars, They were completly cut off . Their area is out in the rural area of the county and due to 8-12 ft snow drifts all the roads leading into their area were cut off. During the early stages of the storm while running a call they had to ditch their quint when snow started to come up to the door handles, They were stranded for 8 hrs until a snow mobile could come rescue them. Right outside there area by a mile one of the local highways was closed with 12+ ft snow drifts and had 20+ cars stranded in a 2 mile stratch, ATV's, National guard Hummers, Farm tractors were all out trying to get to this town and the cars stranded on the Highway. 36 HRS after the storm started the skys cleared and a state police Hello flew out to help rescue the stranded occupants on the highway. During the over night area the fire company had a snow mobile running calls becuase the utility with plow couldn't get around. They had to stay in place with a pt and it wasn't until 24 hrs later that they could get her to the hosp. due to the snow drifts. The quint was recovered 20 hrs after the crew was rescued and it wasn't until 2 days laster that the main roads around their area were opened. Drifting continued for 3 days, most roads were 1- 1/2 lane.
I'm here is semi-upstate NY, about 60 miles north of NYC, and am getting ready to go to our station for a winter storm stand-by. My department, all volunteer that runs around 2000+ calls per year, does request that any available firefighters report to their respective stations, we have 6, and stand by for alarms. Many of our members work for local or state highway departments and have to report in to work. We usually turn out enough members to man one or two pieces from each station. Like you, I feel that the inconvenience of hanging at the station for several hours, is well worth the time saved in responding to the alarms during the incliment weather.l
It was pretty much SOP for us when I was in. Some of our guys lived in neighboring counties and had long drives so they'd come in and just camp out. Same when the on-duty shift got off the next day, we'd generally hang around. If the road conditions improved, the off duty guys would make runs home and to the stores and then be back to spend another night. It was just something we did voluntarily without being asked. One more reason it's hard being married to a public service professional.