Caught another one…

1505_19th_st_1smBobo poking his head in and surveying the damage after the fact. Click on the image for full-size.

Expecting another “food on the stove” box alarm or “nothing found” gas leak (like the last two had been, at 2 a.m. and 3:30 a.m., respectively), I grumbled as I peeled off my sweatshirt. My feet stung from running across the bay floor in socks, so I welcomed the feeling of tucking them sleepily into my boots.

“Oh come on… do you see what time it is? Where the hell is our relief?” It had been a long night already, and my question was lost in the wail of the siren as I pulled on my hood and coat.

Next to me, Bobo snapped on his radio and listened to the tactical channel for a minute.

“Basement fire!” He grinned as he turned back to the window, searching outside for smoke or any other indicators that we weren’t running around out here for nothing.

We were assigned to the rear as the second due company, and quickly found ourselves past 19th Street and pulling around the side.  Bobo had laid out the supply line and met me at the wagon; I grabbed a crosslay and turned to find a dizzying array of chain-link fence that blocked my path to the end-unit townhouse with smoke pumping from the concrete basement stairwell.

After three sharp turns and one poorly-hopped groin-level fence (ouch), I was masking up on the stairs as a guy from the Rescue Squad forced the door open. In we went, to find the damned tightest basement—if you could even call it that—I’ve seen yet. Maybe fifteen feet long by about seven or eight feet wide, the packrat of an owner had shoved all sorts of junk on either side of a very narrow walkway. Now imagine some Squad guys and the backstep of an engine company trying to cram into it; maneuvering my hoseline through and around that mess to get water on the fire was quite a process.

Nevertheless, Engine 15 got the knock while Engine 19 held the first floor above us. We hung around while the investigators did their work and Truck 7 did some overhaul, then we picked up and went home.

As I pulled all my stuff off the wagon, I smiled at the guys hauling their gear across the bay floor to relieve us.

Sometimes, late relief can be a good thing. Two fires in four tours—who could complain?


There’s a bit more information available here at E15/RS3′s website; you’ll notice that the second picture is one of mine. I’ve added a few more below.

1505_19th_st_4smThis was the entryway at the bottom of the stairs; once inside, we had to make a sharp right and then navigate a walkway even narrower than this.

1505_19th_st_3smThe only place to maneuver is to the left of this table of junk. The window you see on the right is barely accessible from the interior unless you start climbing.

1505_19th_st_2smCoconuts! (There were some really random items in here.)

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Alex Capece

Washington, D.C. Firefighter and Paramedic

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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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