Enjoying the fireworks.


We pulled up to the building on 12th street and hopped out. Taking a second to scan the street, I saw only a single truck company and Rescue 3 pulling up beside us.

"Uh… aren't we fourth due?"

"Yep. Come on, rook… let's run the 400."

And so in the front door we went. We stretched as much line as we could, eventually heading down to the basement of this typical Southeast apartment building.

I flicked my light on, and panned it slowly across the room. 

"This is too smoky to just be the idiots setting off fireworks inside the building… something's on fire here."

My mentor's voice cut through the haze of smoke, and the outlines of the guys from Engine 15 were visible as we moved through the debris in the basement.

(I stopped for a moment, remembering my old Sergeant telling me to follow the smoke as you see it in the beam of light.)

"Is it over here? The smoke's going that way, so…"

As if on cue, we all moved towards a big pile of wood that was blocking a small hatch. Two of us started tossing doors and hunks of wood out of the way (one of which gave me a pretty good smack in the face), and we were able to open it up after a minute or two.

I'm not 100% on how it happened, but a mattress was smoldering under the first floor. Extinguishing the fire was pretty anticlimactic, but that's how we found ourselves running the last few feet of our 400' hose line into a four-foot-high crawl space littered with old beer cans and trash. 


Was it a rockin' good fire, full of excitement and good stories? Nope. Was it a chance for me to learn something about working on a fire scene? Absolutely. I mean, I'm happy for whatever I can get to do while in the street—I'm still technically assigned to the Training Academy, so I appreciate the time I've spent crashing on E15's couch (figuratively speaking, that is). 

Besides, the best "tips and tricks" seem to come from the guys when they're actually working a scene. Sure, they can sit at the watchdesk with me and tell stories, but the stuff they share while we're in the middle of doing something can be infinitely more valuable.


As we crawled out and began gathering up our sections of hose, it was impossible not to notice all the fireworks going off around us. I mean, I expected people to be setting off fireworks on the eve of the greatest pyromaniac holiday of the year, but this many?

Damn near every apartment building around us had something exploding, whistling, flaring, or shooting into the air above it at some point. Courtyards, roofs, steps, middle of the street; not to mention the Nationals Stadium was putting on their own show, so we had quite a spectacle to watch as we racked hose. (I had a slightly better view, because the new guy always climbs up into the hose bed for this process.)

It was Friday night, a little after 11pm, and we still had a long night ahead of us.

I love this city.


I hope everyone had a happy 4th of July, and I bet the crews on #4 had a good bit of fun.

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Alex Capece

Washington, D.C. Firefighter and Paramedic

FE Talk: Humpday Hangout

Captain Scott Hetrick
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Interesting that BOA is from my home town of Steamboat Springs, and they didn't approach our Fire Department to do a field test or even let us know that they were working on a duty boot. Small towns are funny sometimes. Captain Scott Hetrick Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue
2014-11-29 21:26:03
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Great job, brethren ... be bald (bold) even off the fire ground.
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John Struve
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As I read all the above I wondered "How does it work?" Are fire personnel asking for pledges from the public to be paid to this charity when the personnel have their heads shaved? The ad above was not clear to me. I will read it again. The charity is certainly a very worthwhile cause.…
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A word of caution for the chronic Facebook addicts.
[…] over three years ago, I penned a post regarding how firefighters and EMS providers were landing themselves in hot water by using various […]
2014-01-07 17:55:57
Jonny Hope
Farewell, brother.
So very well said Brother. Mike was such an awesome guy. Sure am gonna miss him and his stories. Mike touch so many people on and off the job. Mike will continue to live on in so many of us. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful tribute with us about Mike. 
2013-12-04 21:49:48

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"For anyone who ever wanted to grow up and become a firefighter... from someone who did just that."
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