It was a normal, rather quiet shift at Station 53. You know these shifts. The nondescript routine days where you are just minutes away from setting a new and infamous department record.
The call was for a wildland fire, well outside of our service area, for resources. Station 56 and 54 covered the initial response for requested resources. But then, as these kinds of days are apt to do, they promptly called us for our tanker. Stu was my partner for the day, poor guy. He suffered the role of helpless spectator as events unfolded. We grabbed our wildland costumes and tossed them aboard Tanker 53. Have no fear, 53 is on the way.
We'd been driving quite a while, and were now down south in the boonies, just minding our own business, when the air line blew out. It was pretty loud. In the cab, it was like a sudden fighter jet cockpit alarm in a movie, as the low pressure alarm came on and a light flashed, adding to the noise. Funny stuff. I had about 30 seconds to find a pull-off to avoid blocking the dirt road. Air pressure went down to just 10psi and held, rising only as high as 15psi when I increased the RPMs. Not nearly enough to keep the brakes off. We were done.
How I hate calling the IC and dispatch with that kind of news. If we had been under cell coverage, that conversation would not have been broadcast. Oh well.
Three hours later, a very big tow truck arrived. Gloriously, he had the parts with him to fix us on the spot.
The fire was controlled by then, so we were released to mope back to Station 53. We had emptied the tank, anticipating being towed, so now needed to refill the tank first.
Long drive back to town.
Pulling away from the hydrant, there was an odd smell. I know that smell very well. Mirror check. Mother of...... we're trailing a plume of coolant steam like an acrobatic airplane at a show. You have got to be kidding.
We were close to home, so I watched the temperature and limped Tanker 53 back to quarters without further incident. It was like a cartoon episode when I shut down the engine and we sat in the bay without speaking, the hissing from under the hood, steam blowing out, audible dripping underneath.
Tanker 53 is out of service in quarters.
So, the record? Yeah.
For the first time in department history, as far as anyone can remember, the Grumpy Dispatcher is the first guy to drive and then break a piece of apparatus, to un-driveable condition, twice, on a single incident.
Sweet. Where's my commemorative engraved plaque?