In the quiet little town of Baltimore, Ohio, fires don't happen very often. And, it seems that when they do, it's never during my shift! For two months, I'd been working both as a volunteer and as a paid firefighter/EMT, taking a few medic runs, but never seeing fire. All that changed last week! I had picked up an overnight shift on Tuesday and was preparing to go home Wednesday morning. Freshly showered and packed up, I was ready to go as the day crew had all arrived. I'd started up my car (it was 15 degrees out!) and polished off a bowl of oatmeal...ten minutes before the official end of my shift, the tones went off. FIRE! Oh my GOD! I asked them, shocked, "Can I come?" I'd be going to the fire as a volunteer, since my shift was over. It was a barn fire, and the guys were skeptical that it would amount to much. I was much more optimistic, and terribly excited.
It was awesome! As soon as the barn was in sight, we noticed smoke...and yes, FLAMES! Fire! There it was! The hay loft was ablaze and the paint on the roof was throwing off white sparks. I got to back up the nozzleman with the thermal imaging camera and spent a lot of time tossing smoldering hay to the ground below. About an hour and a half into the incident, my bat. chief showed up and asked, "So, did anybody start their car back at the station to warm it up?" NUTS! I forgot about my car, which had been on empty since the night before. Eventually, the police chief went over to the station to turn my car off for me. Anyway, I went through three bottles that day, and the only casualty was my radio, which had fallen out of my pocket while lying on the floor pushing out hay bales with my feet. It's still missing, and undoubtedly buried beneath the monstrous pile of hay, now soaked with rain. Also, my car started and I somehow managed to get to the gas station, sputtering all the way.
I got home 4 and a half hours after I was supposed to, tired and satisfied. My son was interested in the "camp fire" smell of his mama, and thrilled to hear how we rescued a cat from that burning barn. I showered and went to bed and slept for nearly three hours, my pillow absorbing the firey smell that remained in my hair for two days. My gear, although washed, still smells that way, and every shift when I get it out, I smile, breathe in that smell, and remember my very first fire.