I'm NOT a firefighter... but today I fought a fire.
It was a quiet Saturday afternoon. I was working on my computer at home when Lisa, my wife, burst into the room and asked, "Did you hear that explosion?" I did not hear anything as I was immersed into the details of paying bills. I ran out to my back yard and saw a column of evil black smoke rising into the sky from the road behind my house. I ran to my Jeep and drove 200 yards to the scene of a semi truck carrying a large pump and pipe system you see in oil refineries. It had lost a part of a rear axle and two tires. One tire flew across the street and destroyed a fence. The second tire lay in the ditch burning. FYI, the "explosion" was the tire bursting. I jumped out of the Jeep and it had occurred to me that there were no fire engines or other emergency personnel there yet. Just onlookers and me... Chaplain Rick. There were no injuries and no real danger. I asked one of the onlookers to call 911 which they did. The semi truck was safely to the side of the road and the driver and Follow car driver were just standing and looking at the burning tire. So I sprang into action. I donned my firefighters bunker coat and placed my white firefighter's helmet that read "Chaplain" on it (this is so no one confuses me with an actual firefighter). I felt as though I was placing on armor for battle. I reached for my fire extinguisher realizing I'm in my wife's car and NOT my Chaplain mobile which is outfitted with a fire extinguisher. "What now?" I think to myself. I'm all dressed up with nothing to do... I approached the burning tire and started a process of problem solving. Do I take my coat off and smother it? Do I blow on it? (Stupid I know but I did think it.) I am NOW thinking... NOT about how to put out this fire... but how NOT to embarrass the Fire Department I volunteer for. Just then my neighbor approached me with a fire extinguisher so I gladly take it and douse the tire. In my mind, I was in a towering inferno battling the Flaming Tire of Death. I can feel the heat on my face and smell the toxic fumes of burning tire rubber. I was actually fighting a fire by myself... Well, me and my neighbor's fire extinguisher. In the background I hear sirens and see a big white fire engine rolling my way. The tire is smoking but I don't see any more flames. I look around imagining the onlookers applauding my bravery and selfless act of firefighting but they all went back to their respective homes... because... well, it was just a burning tire. The extinguisher was depleted as the real firefighters exited their mighty fire apparatus and pulled the fire hose out. I was thinking, "No worries boys, I got it done." But I looked and saw the tire reignited and was on fire again. The crew on Engine 6 got the job done as I watched the real firefighters work.
A burning tire isn't much, but it's MY Flaming Tire of Death story to tell. It felt good not to embarrass, too bad, myself or the men and women who really make a difference fighting fires. Thanks Engine 6 for backing your Chaplain up!
Who knows what lies ahead... what tomorrow will bring for the Poudre Fire Authority Chaplain. Oh, I know, he's going to buy a fire extinguisher for his wife's Jeep.