Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The worst kind of call—for me, anyway.

I've mentioned before that, in general, I don't worry about my husband on the job. I don't lose sleep (well, not a lot, anyway,) thinking about all of the potential diseases that he could come in contact with. I am excited to hear about the times he gets to go interior on a structure fire. The vehicle accidents and accompanying trauma situations are interesting.

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I'm not overly worried about him being on the side of a busy road. People tend to slow down and rubberneck when passing an accident (thank you, high-profile sparkly fire vehicles!) High angle rescue—he's supported by a rope; I'm okay with that.

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Brush fires can be massive and potentially very dangerous, but realistically, he is more likely to get injured by twisting his ankle walking on rough terrain or getting blisters from the draining physical labor.

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Maybe I should worry more about these potentially dangerous situations. Recently, my husband did something for the first time in the fire service. It is the only call to date that has caused me to pause and hope that he makes it through okay.

Vertical ventilation.

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There are several reasons why I don't like it when he goes up on the roof of a burning building.

Problem 1 - He could potentially fall through a weak part of the roof, into the burning structure below him. There's just something inherently wrong about standing on top of flammable material—material that's been on fire for a while. When he cuts into a roof (similar to the training structure seen here), the skinny trail of space that his chain saw leaves behind seeps smoke.

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That can't be good. Well, good for the firefighters below who need visibility, but not good for the wife of the guy up top who is at home hoping he doesn't fall through.

Problem 2 - There are some aspects, important aspects, that are out of the control of my firefighter. He has to rely on the guy "sounding" the roof, basically whacking it as hard as he can to make sure it's stable. It's literally a leap of faith, walking on a surface that someone else tells him is safe. At this point, since he's relatively new to the service, relying on someone else with much more experience to tell him where to step is probably not a bad thing. Still—it's hard for me to know that an essential safety precaution is in the hands of someone else.

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Problem 3 - Not only could he fall through the roof, but he could fall off off it, as well. Did you know that as a general procedure, firefighters don't tie themselves off when they go on a roof? The reason being, they don't want to be hooked to it if something goes wrong and they need to get off quick. They are at the mercy of balance and gravity while they're up there. What makes it worse is that he's up on a slanted surface in full, clumsy-looking protective gear, carrying awkward and heavy equipment. Those turnout boots look more like rubber skis to me—sorry, leather skis. Add rain—or worse, snow—to the top of that roof, and it seems like a disaster waiting to happen.

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Yeah—not a fan of roof ops. Mercifully, I won't hear about him doing vertical ventilation until after it happens. I don't understand why they can't find a way to tie themselves off—if not to the roof, then to the ladder, maybe. Would someone please come up with a quick and easy securing mechanism that has an emergency release? Don't rock climbers already have some similar type of set-up? I know, I know. There's probably some valid reason why it wouldn't work. But still—it would make me feel a whole heck of a lot better to know he is less likely to fall!

9 comments:

Dianne said...

Good morning! I just discovered your blog on PW. I've been enjoying reading and catching up on it. We live in the Callahans in Southern Oregon.

Blessings,
Dianne

Fire Wife Katie said...

Hi Dianne, nice to "meet" you. :) Thanks for stopping by!

Morgan said...

I probably shouldn't have read this post, lol. My husband has done the roof ventilation for calls- the most recent was at a restaurant. I had never thought to worry about it before...

Still, I think the calls on the side of the highway and the search and rescue in burning buildings trouble me most.

Burning buildings where firefighter have to go inside are really rare around here, but the highway calls do happen fairly often. There was one time where there was an accident on the curve of a highway where it is an overpass. The shoulder was incredibly small. When my hubby showed us exactly where it happened and where they had to work during it, I was very thankful that none of the firefighters got hurt!

Firefighter/Paramedic said...

At least on the side of the highway we have "Big Red" to block for us. According to statistics the most dangerous part of our job is dinner time. We need to make sure we keep in good physical shape for this job.

Anonymous said...

Hi Katie...nice article! :-) Pics looked familiar. ;-) Eric

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

Yea, I'm not a big fan of roofs either. My hubby is very paranoid about them and cautious. That makes me feel better. My hubby is also obsessed with assessing buildings and quickly seeing how what type of construction it is. I think he should do seminars on it when he retires.

As far as the big red truck in on the highway, I like having it block my hubby too while he is using the "tool" to get victims out of a mangled car. roadside calls freak me out worse than anything. Our ambulance got ran into by a drunk lady. Could have been really bad.

Fire Wife Katie said...

Eric, all the good pictures came from MV. :)

Stephen and Larissa said...

Yeah that's the one that scares me the most too. I don't think he's done it anytime recently, apparently it's pretty rare when they do. But his perspective of "that's so cool" scares me! Didn't he watch Ladder 49?! I think that's why we get scared is that we watch movies that often show the worst case scenario.

Elizabeth said...

Hi Katie! I have just been going through some of your old posts. My husband seems to think he is Spiderman or something! He is one of the 3 paid guys on a Volunteer department. When they get a call for a structure fire I know he will be the one grabbing the chainsaw and heading up the ladder! He is like a kid in a candy store! I can't can't help but smile when I see him sometimes, but I still get those butterflies! Especially now that we have the baby!

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