Tales from a Tailboard fireman-explosions big and small

We just had a news story about a person who found a pipe bomb on the beach and transported it to our local firehouse. Why someone would do that escapes me. I know we are the ultimate fixers, but come on. If you think this is a one-time event, I have a story.

One afternoon Gary and I were sitting in front of the apparatus door watching the world go by. A car pulled up and two guys got out. They carried a package to me and I thought they were making a delivery. As I started to open it I asked what it was. They said they thought it was a bomb. I walked it to the middle of the street, put it down carefully, and set up cones to block off the street. I responded the bomb squad. The deliverers told me a guy in their office was getting threats and when he got the package he did not recognize the sender so they decieded to bring it to me to fix. It was not a bomb.

My biggest explosion was at a heavy industrial plant making armored vehicles for the military. They had a fire in a huge dumpster filled with exotic metal shavings. I was driving, facing away from the fire when the captain told me to get a hydrant. As he turned away everything went into slow motion. In the rear view mirror I saw a fireball slowly advancing toward the engine. The two firefighters next to me began to run and I floored the engine to try to beat the fireball. I heard the explosion when it caught the engine. I did not feel any concussion. What happened? A worker had moved the dumpster with a fork lift and all the water the employees had been pouring in hit the flaming metal and boom. Luckily the force of the blast went up and the two crews next to the spot were saved by the metal dumpster body.

Natural gas is highly explosive. We responded to a smell of gas and were checking for the source when the house blew. It ballooned the stucco from the walls and blew out the glass patio doors missing a crew by inches. The owner had bi-passed the gas meter to his dryer to save a few bucks.

Exploding tires at car fires scared the onlookers and cops. After your first time you get used to it and watch while the civilians freak out. Movies always show cars blowing up; I never saw one and I went to lots of car fires.

At a very hot garage fire I was going in very low when the popping started. The owner had boxes of WW1 ammunition. I learned the cartridges blow up but the bullets do not come flying at you. You pick up the best information at fires.

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