3am retained alert…what’s the emergency?

Wake up call

It’s 3:50am, and I am woken from my lovely deep sleep by my alerter going off next to my bed. I slowly drag myself out of bed, give myself a second to let myself get accustomed to where and what I am doing, before getting my clothes on.

Some of my whole-time colleagues can’t fathom why I would want to do retained and do exactly this, get out of my own bed on my days off. Tonight I wonder myself. I have just started my 4 days off after 2 busy night shifts at my whole-time station, all I wanted was a full night’s kip!

Major incident

As I have mentioned before, I live fairly close to my local station. So it’s not long before I pull up and look bleary eyed up at the turnout monitor. The shout is a request from our neighbouring county for our Aerial appliance, as the first operator in and crew manager I decide to go in charge.

Once I have my kit on I wait for another 2 operators. Whilst waiting and on closer inspection of the turnout information I see that the first pumps in attendance have made pumps 10. This could be quite a big one I thought! It’s not long before we book mobile and we are making the 25 minute journey across the border. Whilst on route we are getting more information from the Fire ground, the first attending appliance has now asked for 15 pumps to attend this incident, within the Fire Service this is a major Fire. A further 3 fire engines from my station are mobilised.

Getting up to speed

By this point I am now awake. I am assisting my driver with the route into the Fire via our mapping system on our MDTs (mobile data terminals). I hadn’t need worry, as when we are about 5 miles away you could see a large orange glow on the horizon.

Once in attendance I make ourselves known to the Officer in Charge so he can task us with where he would like the appliance positioned. Once I have gathered our task, I have to consider lots of factors regarding where we can jack the machine. My biggest concern is how close I can get to the building. The whole building is well alight, no internal Firefighting can be carried out as it’s too dangerous, so building collapse is a real possibility. The last thing I want to happen is a wall collapse and damage or even worse topple over the aerial.

Aerial firefighting

For several hours myself and another Firefighter battle the flames from the aerial trying to protect the areas that aren’t affected. By this point it’s daylight and the full devastation of the Fire can now be seen.

We are relieved by another crew so we can go and have a cup of tea and break. It gives us an opportunity to walk around the Fire ground to see other crews and it gives you an appreciation what other crews have been doing.

Reinforcements arrive

It’s not long before the incident begins to be scaled down. Fresh crews arrive from both counties to relieve the exhausted Firefighters. Once back to station we have a lot of kit to clean, check and fuel, so it’s ready again at a moments notice.

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