Friday, January 20, 2006

fire call

I hadn't been asleep long when a fire call came over the radio. The dispatcher said there was a fire on Hall Hill Rd. I jumped out of bed quickly and clumsily put my clothes on. It took a minute to find my truck keys. Dorothy handed me my radio and flashlight, I jumped into my fire pants and boots and out the door I went. I keep my fire coat and helmet in my truck so it will be ready, but I was fumbling with the keys trying to find the right one by the light of the porch light when Mike drove by in the fire engine. He stopped for me but I waved him on and finally found the key and pulled out of the drive way in pursuit. My throat was parched and dry already by the time I drove past our mailbox.

I drove down highway 62 towards town as fast as I could. Mike was trying to get me on the radio; I kept responding but in the dark I wasn't sure I was even on the right frequency. Every time I rounded a curve I could see the flashing lights of the fire truck up ahead in the distance. I wasn't gaining on him. I reached Hall Hill Rd and turned south. I could see the flashing lights ahead and it soon became evident that they were coming back in my direction. This is typical of fire calls in rural areas. The person who called in probably gave the location as well as he could but very often the information is inaccurate. By the time I turned around, the fire truck was headed east along 62 with several responders in their p.o.v.'s behind it. I could see in the distance as they turned south again on Ross Swimmer Rd. As I approached the intersection a truck from Westville came in from the east. I pulled over and let them pass. By the time I caught up with them they were stopped in the Addilee community. No fire. Someone may have seen smoke from a wood burning stove, and reported it as a fire; who knows. We all went back home. Now I'm up at midnight writing this post and drinking a diet Pepsi free to slake my thirst. I'm too keyed up to go back to sleep.

I keep my fire pants folded over my boots (note the obligatory red suspenders) near the back door(just like a real fireman). I can see I need to be even more organized. I think when I go to bed I'll leave my wallet, cell phone, keys, and anything else I might need on the washing machine so I can grab them on my way out the door.

The primary problem is that once I'm asleep and then get awakened by the pager I'm dazed and confused for a few minutes. If Dorothy hadn't been here to steer me around and put things in my hands I would still be stumbling around the house trying to get ready when Mike returned with the truck after the call. Mike Wolf is the official mechanic for the department and usually has a fire truck at his house which is just down the road from me. So as he rolls down the road, siren blasting and lights flashing, I try to be ready and standing out in the road to hitch a ride with him to the fire. This time I just didn't make it. Well, I'm going back to bed now; I'm keeping my socks on just in case.

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