My first fire call was a fatal fire. An elderly gentleman was heating up some food (Alpo no less) and fell asleep. Well you can figure the out come........Alpo heats up, catches fire, burns up the kitchen, occupant is over come by smoke and pulled from building by fire crews. I have been a member of the department for about 6 hours and I am thinking this is GREAT! The guys went in, performed a rescue and the guy has got a chance, he going to make it!
Well, you can guess my ignorance to what was really going on was prevalent. I was a volunteer in a very small and rural town in Maine. You know everyone and they know you type of town. I started this job in 1991 and when you live in a poor, rural area, your about 20 years behind most people in the country. The fire department did the best they could with the cards that were dealt.
So when the fire crew pulled the man out of the building and deposited him on the lawn, he laid there. No one to help him, no one to resessitate him, nobody even covered the body (including me, I was told "thats someone else's job"). So here I am the "new guy" thinking, again, great! He has a chance still! So we waited, and waited. Remember a small rural town. All the guys are milling about doing busy work, looking at the body, finding more busy work. And we waited.
Well the volunteer ambulance service arrived and you can imagine the scene that ensued then. People running, yelling for stuff, doing this weird pushing on this guys chest and, holy crap, someone is kissing him! Then I thought "what in the hell did I get myself into". It ends up the poor gent had passed before the fire department arrived and recovered him.
Now I am a career Firefighter / Paramedic and have seen the worst of the worst and the best of the best in people and I am continually amazed at how bad and good things can be within the communities we serve.
I guess this one call (fortunately my first call) taught me I have allot to learn. I am glad I am smart enough to have figured that out and continue to learn and train to be a better firefighter and EMS provider to this day.
Everyone stay Safe!
I'll bet that you could use a little laugh as you read through the majority of the stories here detailing fatal fires, so here is:
I was at home off duty getting ready to eat my birthday cake. The fire radio goes off reporting a fire in the body shop of a major car dealership in the center of the main highway in town. This building was an old timber frame construction wood building approximately a mile from my house. The temperature was near zero and I told my wife that I was going to the scene, and would be back to have my cake when I got back, don't keep the kids up waiting, because I knew that we were going to be going to a second alarm on this one.
As I arrived on the scene, fire was already through the roof and as the second due engine was arriving at the hydrant located a block from the scene to find it frozen solid. I helped to make the lay of a five inch supply line to the next hydrant about three hundred feet down the road. Finally we had water to work with. Returning to the scene, I helped to place a ground ladder against the brick wall so that we could place an inch and three quarter line in place to protect the exposure and help knock down the fire trying to extend into the front showroom area.
So here i am up on a thirty five foot ladder and all of the mist from the spay is right in my face and freezing on my gear. The only redeeming factor in this incident is a little of the heat from the fire would occasionaly be blown against the parapet wall holding my ladder. I was a human icicle on a ladder. I was operating in this position for about an hour and a half when Mother Nature decided that relief was required. So I called my partner Luke to take over my position so that I could get down and use the facilities in the bar at the corner. When I went to get down, I couldn't! My turnouts were solidly frozen to the ladder with about an inch and a half of ice from my chest to my knees. I couldn't move away from the ladder! Finally I had to tell Luke to bring a couple of spanner wrenches and beat the ice enough to allow me to descend the ladder. As I went to go to the restroom, I took the spanners with me to be able to chip away at the ice and frozen turnout coat which now billowed out like a ballerina's tutu so that I could go and relieve myself.
Oh yes, about the birthday cake, It was delicious when I finally returned home 22 hours later after we finally secured operations and got all of the equipment deiced and reloaded. All of the hose lines had to be placed on a low body semi-trailer once they were broken at the couplings and taken back to the station like that. I have fought many hotter fires in my career, but few of them anywhere nearly as cold and extended as this one.
I get goose bumps just remembering how cold this one was!
One that I will never forget is we were at the firehouse training when we got a call for a car fire in a junk yard. When we pulled up on seen there were about 10 cars on fire set up side by side and about 2 feet apart. The fire was trying to spread on both ends of the cars. Me and one of the guys had to walk ontop of a few cars in order to get to one of the ends of the cars that were on fire. While my twin sister and my partners brother went to work on the other end. It took us about a half an hour to put them out.
After 20 years I have way to many of all. But i dont like to talk about the doom and gloom. So here is my story, We got called out to help with traffic control on StRt 11 a 4 lane highway. Black ice had coated everything, we park on a little grade and as we jump out of the truck it was like the domino affect as our feet hit the ground so do our butts, that fast everyone is crawling to find something to pull themselves up with. so we are all standing now and the truck starts sliding backwards in slow motion. Then we all look back to see a Pepsi semi truck coming across a bridge completely side ways and how he did not hit either side of the bridge i will never know. Then you have that one person who does not think anyone else can drive goes by us at like mach 1. So later after we are all cleaned up and traffic moving again we clear the scene and about 2 miles down the road the guy that went by at mach 1 is all smashed up and in the ditch between the north and south bound lanes. He is just sitting on his hood shaking his head as we go by, the ohio state patrol is out talking to him so we did what and good person would. No we did not stop we waved and kept on going. No buddy was hurt in the making of this story unless you count that one guys ego.
Every call, no matter the situation, leaves something, that's why I tell my crew that there's no such thing as a BS call. I guess one that really sticks with me is an MVA a few years back. A car ran a stop sign at an intersection and T-boned a full size pickup truck. The truck rolled at least 3 times and came to rest one its side against a tree in someones yard. There were two victims in the truck and 1 in the car, I took the most severly injured female from the truck on my squad, she had several lacerations, broken hip, dislocated shoulder,open head wound,and internal injuries. we stabilized her, called for air medical transport to meet us at the hospital and transported, we didn't think she had much of a chance due to the extent of her injuries.
3 weeks later, during a training night, she came through the doors of the station bandaged and limping, carrying a huge plate of homemade cookies, she gave everyone that was on the squad a big hug and thanked us for what we did to help her and told she couldn't possibly thank us enough. That's one of those moments when you know why you do what you do, not for the thanks, but for the positive impact you make on someones life and knowing you can make a difference.
We rolled up to call all equipment was responding and we get there and our Cheif tells us to set ladders and tells the engine crew to get ready. Once the ladders where up I went in behind the engine crew with the truck crew to search. And i ended up finding a little child in their closet that was unconsious. I picked the child up and carried him out. As sonn as we got out and called the engine crew out the intire house collapsed and we gladely all got out safe.
Mine was I was one of the first on a 10-50 involving a 18- wheeler which was for some reason trying to turn around in a curve on a highway. And a huseband of a friend came around that curve in a truck. The rest you can imagine. Me and another fire fighter were the first to get to him and see him. I will never forget his face. No matter how many things I have seen that one stays in my mind. To this day I stil can't bring up the wreck or death with the wife. We stay in touch and see each other often.
Well, if I have to narrow it down to ONE, it would be a 16 vehicle pile up on I-74 while I was still on the department as chief.
The pile up was caused by a field fire next to the roadway that created very thick smoke. Vehicles kept driving into the smoke and crashing into the cars that had already crashed. Semis, pickups, vans, cars; you name it.
Plus, we had the leaking gas from tanks and the fire variable from the field.
It had everything! Fire suppression, vehicle extrication, rescue; wow!
NIMS before it became popular.
Oh; I have other stories, but I would have to write a book.
In 2002 ,late May , I was still sleeping ,when I heard a siren on a State police car going past my house about 5 am . My wife was up when we got dispatched for a MVA east of the Village on Rout 39 near Castile Center Rd. State police was on location, 2 cars , 2 people , dispatcher asked us to expidite entrapment . We went enrout with Ambulance.pumper and utility truck with Jaws. I was in truck with Jaws , upon arrivel we informed that this was a double fatality .We ended up blocking the road off and deverting all traffic around ,we did not do any extrication, the State Police was doing thier investigation and it was going to be a while , as I was looking around and marking where things were , I had noticed the truck , I was just standing there staring as I had seen whom it was , my heart had stopped beating and the tears fell, as I walked away , my chief and an Investigator had asked if I know that person ! Yes I do ! I would like to go to work and give the bad news to my supervisor, whom the person inthe pickup was her father .He was on his way to work , we both worked on a larg dairy farm in New York upstate ,He is not forgoten by me no way no how , He was an inocent person in the wrong place wrong time , the State police Officer was on his way home from work , the car he chased ,! He was tryingto stop for a moving violation but the kid ran a stop sign, and speeding. The speed hit over 80 mph in a 35 mph .The State Police Officer is a good friend also and past FF. We dont talk ,not due to the incedent. As far as the other person ... well he also was killed on impact. he was just late teens early 20s. My friend died like a week before his 70th birthday or so , This man showed me alot on the farm , we did work in the fields together and on barns ,he was like a big brother at times , a man I will never forget . RIP my friend .......
Mine was the first fatal motor vehicle accident that we were on, although the county duputies were already onscene, and notified us of the possible fatality, I was the first EMT off the engine to check and try and find vitals or any signs of life, sadly there were none.