July 19, 2012, Midland, Ont. – “Barrie Fire Control, this is Georgian Bay Car 1,” I heard on my pager as I was washing my hands and thinking about the yummy lunch my significant other (now technically my fiancé) had just brought me at work. “Gee, I wonder what the chief is calling dispatch for?” I think to myself. As soon as the first thought registers, the second follows: “Oh no, it better not be a call . . . my lunch . . .”
Sure enough, the pager went off for a burn complaint not too far from the hall. I dried my hands and flung open the washroom door. “Really?” I said to no one in particular as I headed for my gear at the back of the hall. I could hear the overhead door rolling up and the fire prevention officer getting into the pumper. We both work in the fire hall so we were geared up and sitting in the truck, ready to respond, in less than a minute.
And then, we waited.
Have I ever mentioned how five minutes can feel like 15 when you’re sitting in the truck waiting for someone else to show up at the hall? I’m sure I have.
After a few minutes, my partner decided to roll with just the two of us, since we knew it was a burn complaint and not something of a more serious nature. As we pulled out, another firefighter had just turned into the hall so we knew we had help if we needed it. We continued on. As we headed to the call, lights and sirens going, I looked over at the FPO and said “Slice and Dice!” We both laughed. Old nicknames die hard. I’ll save the story behind the names for another blog.
We turned onto the road where the call was located and headed toward the end, checking the 911 numbers as we went. We arrived at what appeared to be the end of the road, with a driveway on the left and a private road in front of us. There were several signs on a tree with names or 911 numbers, but not with the number we were looking for. “It’s gotta be this way,” Lindsay, the FPO, said as she carefully headed down the barely-wide-enough-for-a-fire-truck cottage road. “The tanker will never make it down here; we’ll get them to stage out there.”
We located the residence we were looking for and radioed dispatch to advise that we had arrived on scene. I went to check the fire while my partner in crime got ready to charge a line. It turned out to be a smouldering fire that had been left unattended and, like everywhere, the conditions were much too dry.
We pulled the line around the side of the house and doused the fire pit with water. I had to laugh at myself as I carefully tried to avoid splattering the muck all over the lawn. You can’t put a fire out with a 38 millimetre line and not get a little muck outside the fire pit. (Life lessons from a volunteer firefighter . . . ) Besides, I decided, better to have a little muck on the lawn than a lawn on fire! It looked like a big ol’ mud pie by the time we were done with it.
And there you have it. The FPO acted as pump operator and incident commander and yours truly put out the fire. Well, to be more accurate, I put out the smouldering embers, but that’s not the point.
The point is, GIRLS RULE!
OK, OK, you guys aren’t half bad either.
Jennifer Mabee is a volunteer with the Township of Georgian Bay Fire Department in Ontario. She began her fire career with the Township of Georgian Bay in 1997 and became the department's fire prevention officer in 2000 and a captain in 2003. She was a fire inspector with the City of Mississauga Fire and Emergency Services before taking time off to focus on family, and is excited to be back at it. E-mail her at