Friday, December 19, 2014

Year In Review - 2014 (Part 1 - Winter Winds)

Since we haven't posted since July... JULY, thought I'd reminisce on the year that was over the coming days.

Clif's Notes version: 2014 has been: awesome, sucky, stressful, painful, fun, sad, bitter, an adjustment, etc. Kind of how we reflect on every year.

One thing that made me LOL (literally... I don't overuse that acronym, and for those that know me, hearty laughs/coffee out my nose aren't in my scope of practice) while reminiscing on the year that was, I'll share below.

In January, we were blessed with bitter cold temperatures. By bitter cold, I mean: the cold air that stings your lungs when you inhale. The kind of cold that makes your knuckles ache. The kind that eats its way through three layers of clothing.

On multiple occasions in January/February, we took over 50+ calls for service, the majority being for "water emergencies". Not the fun type, as depicted above, but 3:22am calls for burst pipes in an apartment complex.

One particular night, after it became predictable, we were called to a two-story apartment complex on the north end of our zone for a water emergency. We made contact with the caller, who resided in the first floor of the dwelling. We were beckoned to the rear of his townhouse, where he pointed to the wall of his utility room and he pointed three feet above the washer & dryer and asked, "Is this normal?"

"Is this normal?" referred to not this:

...but more like this:

After 1.8 seconds, we determined the water was coming from the unit above the resident, to which he told us the residence had been vacant since March.... 10-11 months. Acting quickly, we threw a ladder to the balcony and forced entry on the sliding door. Once in, we traipsed through ankle deep water and found the root of the problem, shut off the water, and squeegeed for a solid two hours.

Am I the only one that when I work out or do strenuous activity, my head itches like a mother? I can still feel my scalp just typing this...

Anyhow, the funny part. We load up all of our equipment: ladders, tools, wet vac, et al. Standard protocol during the winter is to keep all the apparatus running, to keep tanks from freezing... however, when we arrived, our electrical had been cutting in and out, so we opted to shut it down for the duration of our stay.

As soon as I engaged the ignition, my OIC had a slip of the foot and hit our foot-mounted air horn. This air horn is only used in short bursts at intersections and in the event of an evacuation at a scene. At 11:00pm on a weeknight, the apartments sitting within the horseshoe had all turned in for the night, and you could see each unit sequentially turn on their lights, wondering if the four horsemen were following our rig.

In this particular complex, space was tight and the road makes a semi-circle back out to the side street. We were in the "7:00 position" of the complex, so we had to go all the way around the horseshoe to "6:00" to exit. Aside from ripping out the fuse box, we had only one option: turn on the lights and sirens and haul ass back to quarters.

On our return, we waited over an hour in the watch room for a call from the Battalion Chief that never came... assuming someone had to call us in to report us as if we were rowdy teenagers.

I think I had a full nights sleep maybe once a week over that cold spell, but I learned a lot being out every waking second of the nights when I was working. Looking forward to more of the same in 2015. 

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