Engine 54, Squad 54, Engine 51, Battalion 56, respond to 4145 Fallen Tree Lane for standby request from sheriff's office.
Now that is a strange-sounding dispatch. One of those where there is more to the story not repeated on the scanner-happy VHF dispatch frequency. The details await our inquiry on the 800MHz radio channels not so easily scanned, once we come online. But I have my suspicions, based on the address.
And sure enough, we are responding to stand by outside a meth lab house that has just been taken over by the brothers in blue. We kind of knew about it for a while, but a hairy domestic disturbance call has forced the hand of the deputies without the luxury of getting haz mat crews and all the bells and whistles in place. Ready or not, let's deal with it.
I go and grab Engine 51 to follow up the duty crew staffing 54's, and am a distant second-due. Upon arrival there are now three BRTs on the street, and a handful of POV responder cars. This on top of the significant law enforcement response. A total cluster.
Nothing is on fire, everyone is out, no one is going to try to go back in for the time being, so the decision is made to stage all the fire guys off-scene. Really, we're not actually needed anyway, right? We drive in a cute parade several hundred yards to the next intersection and assemble in the dirt parking lot of the neighborhood rural bar and grille.
The minutes drag on. An hour goes by. We are standing in our small mini-cliques and shooting the breeze, cooling our heels.
I hear one of the rigs start up again behind me, and for some reason don't think much of it. Until I hear the roar of a floored throttle, and observe the surprise on the face of the guy in front of me, who can see over my shoulder.
"Hey, who is that? HEY!"
Several firefighters are now shouting and moving towards Engine 51, which is wailing in protest under maxed RPMs. The first guy to get there yanks open the driver's door and grabs the guy in the seat. Yanks him out and throws him down, where he clumsily falls with a thud onto the gravel, and Engine 51 immediately falls back into normal idle.
Dude was trying to steal my fire engine! And I stood rooted to the spot in disbelief through the entire event.
He came out of the bar, a bit buzzed and feeling like a good prank was on order. At least that was his version. No harm done, he just wanted to drive it across the lot. So he said. He didn't understand why we weren't taking it so well.
So, he knew how to turn on the battery, and knew where the starter buttons were. But for whatever reason, he failed to shift it into gear or release the brake. The wheel chocks would have been no serious defense, either.
That could have been bad.
Can't trust anyone. I've got enough dubious "titles" and "accomplishments" on my record, having my fire engine stolen out from under my nose is not something I want to add to the list.
Last I saw of the prankster, he was sitting in the back of a patrol car and getting an earful from a deputy. I don't know what they did with him.
That could have been really bad. I am still shaking my head at how little one has to imbibe to think that kind of stunt is EVER a good idea. Scary.