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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happens to All of Us


Beeeeep.

Engine 54, Engine 51, Engine 53, respond to a smell of smoke in a home.....

Upon my solo arrival in Engine 51, 54's crew was already in the house with the TIC trying to find the source of the burned plastic odor.  The air was clear, no visible smoke, but the smell was unmistakable.  I was directed to bring my TIC in as well, to help investigate inside, as nothing at all was visible from the outside.

We weren't making any progress by the time 53 arrived, and they were detailed with going around the perimeter outside with their TIC.

Furnace?  No problems.  Attic?  Nothing.  Electrical?  Nada.  Bad ballast in a fluorescent fixture?  Nope.  We kept coming back to the living room where the odor was strongest.

The fun part of this call was that the homeowner was a firefighter for the Very Large City Fire Department north of here across the county line.  He had tried to find the source for himself without success for quite a while, and eventually hit the point where he had to swallow his pride and call us in, because having your home burn down after you self-patrolled it for 30 minutes without successfully finding the source is much more embarrassing than having to call in the local firefighters.

Finally, it was Trev's voice: "Got it!".  He was by the wood stove, which the guy used to heat his home.  We had searched around it, behind it, checked the walls around it from the front and behind in other rooms, and had thoroughly inspected the chimney's path through to the roof several times and found nothing other than the normal and safe heat signature expected, with nothing unusual found to explain the odor.  Until Trev took a fourth long look, and was the first of us to look under it.

There, on the brick base near the fireplace, were three toy cars melted nearly into blobs, that Trev had scooped out from the 2" gap under the wood stove.

There you go.  Darn kids!

Don't worry homeowner firefighter from the VLCFD, it happens to all of us.  We won't tell.  At least we're not naming names.  And to be fair, it took us forever to find it, too.

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Our prayers and thoughts go out to those affected by Hurricane Sandy and the brave souls working to keep everyone safe from harm and get the power back on.  Read of some freakishly amazing feats of courage and heroism by many out there.  Well done, and please make sure you get back home to your families in one piece.