Geek turned Fire Fighter

So, I am sitting here today hacking away and my wife says “The neighbor’s house is on fire.”  I go out back to see what is up and its clear its not the house.  The fire is beyond the trees, 4 houses down.  Just past that house is a wooded area where no homes have been built yet.  I look out behind the houses and see smoke in the brush behind the houses.

I should explain at this point that our house has a railroad that runs behind it.  Separating us from the railroad is a wooded area about 30 feet deep.  Three houses down, that wooded area is on fire.  The flames are small there for now and there are people out there with extinguishers.

We are thinking at this point that someone was burning leaves or wood (common in emerging areas, aka “out in the country”).  We live in a newly developed area that not too long ago was considered very rural.  So, its no uncommon for people to have a burn pile.

But, then we see smoke in the other direction, two houses down, on the tracks.  I stomp through the brush to investigate.  Sure enough, there are flames on the track down there.  Now I see what has happened.  The train that came through a while ago must have leaked/dropped something out that was either on fire already or highly flamable.  So, my wife brings me our extinguisher from the house and I put out that fire that is getting no attention.

The reason it is getting no attention is because they are trying to save the house 4 houses down that borders the heavily wooded area.  Its still burning good.

Suddenly the wind shifts.  The small fires that were 3 houses down now spread quickly through the dry, dead grass that is behind all the houses.  The fire is now in my neighbor’s back yard.  His dog is in its pen.  He keeps it in a small, tall pen in his larger fenced in yard during the day to keep him from getting out and roaming.  The dog is freaking out.  I jump the fence and let him out of the pen.  My wife gets our leash and takes him over to our deck.

Seeing that the fire trucks are all still working on the dense woods 4 houses down, I start grabbing my hoses from my house.  I have several 50ft hoses for watering my yard.  By this point, my retired neighbor whose house is in front of the small fire I put out earlier has come down and he starts helping me get the hose through the yard and out to the fire.

The volunteer fire fighters priorities keep changing as things flare here and there.  I decide to be proactive and jump the fence and do what I can with my little hose.  Luckily, my neighbor has cleared out behind his property.  We are just fighting dead grass fires instead of burning brush.  That makes it possible for me to put it out with a garden hose with a spray nozzle.  I soaked the area behind the two houses next to me for about an hour.  Small flames kept popping up, but it was nothing dangerous.  We had to keep an eye out on the other side of the tracks.  These wooden cross ties would be smoldering and would catch the grass on the other side of the tracks on fire from time to time.  There was a lot more grass on that side of the tracks. A fire over there would be bad as I don’t think they have gotten hydrants into that new sub division yet.

One of the fire fighters told me that the volunteer fire fighters meeting is Thursday at 7.  Since I don’t know when our small area will have the resources for a full time fire department, I am considering going.  I am working at home most days and I don’t think dealnews would mind me going to fight a fire from time to time.

I took some photos of the aftermath.  It was so surreal that neither I nor my wife thought to take pictures during the event.  There is a description of what you are looking at on each photo, just click it.

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4 Responses to Geek turned Fire Fighter

  1. Jay says:

    I have been a volunteer Fireman for almost 30 years, and I can tell you I have had some fantastic fun and met some great people. During the day is when most volunteer organizations need the most help. They train you for nothing and provide the gear for you, all you have to do is invest some of your time. The only downside to these types of organizations is that there will always be those that seem to do it all and those that are there for ride.
    I HAVE NEVER HAD ANY REGRETS!!!

  2. my boyfriend is a firefighter and loves every minute of it. I do support him and trust in the fact that he’s very well trained and knows it well – but I never get used to his monitor going off and him running out the house in fire-fighter mode. happened this morning, too. I’d suggest, if it is truly something you’re thinking of doing, have a long discussion with your wife and get all the information you can before making such a life-changing decision. but, if you do choose it, more power to you! firefighters are truly some of the bravest, best and selfless people in this world! :D

  3. wussyderder says:

    Props to you for taking the initiative and preventing a second large fire! Also, I would recommend going to the meeting, as I find volunteering a very rewarding experience. It’s really up to you in the end, though!

    Thanks for this entry! It made for a great read!

  4. Hi Brian,

    My name is Jonathan, and I have been a volunteer fire fighter going 13 years now. I think you would find running fire calls just the thing you need when working from home. It will add some excitement to your life and give you a sense of giving to your community. And you never know when you being there made the difference in the outcome.

    I also work from home for a company called MySQL. You might have heard of it.

    I oversee the QA for Cluster and Replication. I would love to develop a working relationship with you and see if we can’t make Cluster the the best thing since sliced bread. Feel free to contact me anytime.

    Best wishes,
    Jonathan Miller
    Austin, Texas USA
    Senior Lead Quality Assurance Developer
    MySQL AB http://www.mysql.com

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