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Shhh – What can I Hear?


Monday, July 19th, 2010

Shhh – What can I Hear?

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My wife is forever commenting, to friends and family, “I have heard that story over and over again.” I guess after forty three years together, you do hear the same stories a lot. Well, as long as I don’t tell them, and then tell them again like an eight track tape (you do know what an eight track tape is or was?) I still am alright, well maybe some would argue but….. The reason I bring this up is that sometimes I don’t know exactly what my subject should be, so I ask her for an idea. Today’s subject is from her archive of listened to repetition.

Early one morning we received a fire call of a house on fire with fire coming through the roof. First off, sometimes waking up properly is a challenge, and then to hear “fire coming through the roof” really gets the mind and body going. As we arrived on scene, we realized it was a model home that truly did have fire coming through the roof. “Back in the day”, we had three man engine companies, so we dropped the fireman off at the hydrant with the 5″ supply line and proceeded to the fire. I pulled the 1 3/4 inch pre-connect, helped the engineer hook up the supply line, don’t even want to go in there without water, and the tank wouldn’t be enough, and headed into the house. By then firefighter Jones was there and helping with the line.

We kicked the front door and cautiously went inside. To our amazement, there was only light smoke and we could see clearly throughout the entire house. We dragged that hose and checked every room. Finding nothing, we returned to the entry way to evaluate the situation.

Why the entry way? Since we did not have any idea of what we had going on, we needed to be next to our escape entrance, for obvious reasons.

Since there was only two of us, it was not hard to stop and listen. Why? My firefighter wanted to pull the ceiling and attack, but with a few stern words, he stopped and listened.

Have you ever heard fire burn? Have you ever heard wood crackle? You can if you listen. Now you have imaging equipment. Use it. We didn’t have it. As we listened, there was a distinct thud, then another thus, right over our heads. I told Jones to get outside now. He started to argue saying again that we could pull the ceiling and fight the fire.

Every instinct in me said get out now so I “helped” Jones out the door and followed. Two and a half steps out, all 1800 square feet of tile roof came clear to the floor with the roof a/c unit, which had been right above us. Needless to say, I was grateful for training, learned instinct, and everything else that prompted an immediate exit.

We regrouped and put out the fire, grateful for another day.

The arson investigators found that the cable guy had installed the cable behind the

heat-a-lator fireplace. Seems the cable was too short so he hammered the vent pipe and put the cable through it. So when the gas fire place was lit, and left for the night, the fire went up the wall into the attic. Took a little while, but it got there. Cable company bought a house…………

So next time you are in a fire and can’t see anything…SHHH and Listen.

Please take care and be safe out there.

Captain Jep

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