I am not sure what you have thought about this series of articles, detailing my 25-year journey through Chesterfield Fire & EMS. My intent was to give you a small glimpse into the life of a firefighter. This last leg of the journey would require me to relearn my job. I had spent about 18 and a half years on an engine company, prior to spending two years in Fire & Life Safety. As I left the office, I was now the pastor of a church, which would play a big part in my future decisions. My new assignment would be Engine 14- A shift; I could not have been happier.
Engine 14 was a great assignment to get back into the thick of things. Little did I realize the turn that would lie ahead in my journey. The truck lieutenant, at the time, wanted to be busier than he was on the truck, so he would come in daily, wanting to ride in my place on the engine. Interested in truck work, I gladly moved over to Truck 14. When the next round of transfers came about, the truck lieutenant went to an acting captain’s spot, I became the truck lieutenant and a newly promoted lieutenant came to the engine.
Truck 14 had been outfitted with a small water tank, a 2,000-gpm pump and some hose, but that was no longer my focus. Truck work was the epitome of support to engine companies. I would learn quickly that we were the first to arrive and one of the last to leave a fire scene. Our primary tasks surrounded the acronym ULOVERS, which stood for utilities, ladders, overhaul, ventilation, extrication, rescue and salvage. One of the standard truck ops that we performed more than any other was interior support. This operation required the driver to throw ground ladders, control utilities and set the fan. The officer and jumpseat person would go in, assist with the primary search, prepare for a coordinated ventilation effort, in conjunction with the engine companies fire attack and provide whatever assistance that the engine company needed to extinguish the fire.
Standard truck ops were a great thing for this veteran lieutenant that had spent most of his career on an engine company. Standard operations were tasks that most frequently needed to be done by an engine or a truck. Examples of standard truck ops were: interior support, outside vent, outside vent/inside search, roof top vent with ground ladders, roof top vent with the aerial, elevated master stream and vent-enter-search. Each person assigned to the truck had an assignment. I forget how often we had to perform these evolutions for our BC, but did I tell you that a time for completion was assigned to each op. I grew up with engine ops, but these truck ops helped me learn a part of my job, as a truck officer. Let me say that the greatest resource to learn how to be a good truck officer was to learn from the firefighters that had been truckies much longer than me.
Another piece of my journey, after coming out of the office, was that I was used as an alternate Tactical Safety Officer. I would usually receive word a workday or two prior, that I needed to report to No. 17 for TSO duty, instead of my regular truck assignment. This role allowed me to see the county, in one 24-hour shift. As the TSO, I would be dispatched to every major incident in the county, as well as to neighboring jurisdictions. My job, in this role, was to assist the incident commander with scene safety. I have written articles in the past about this position. The TSO position was and still is one of the most innovative positions in the fire service.
I would be transferred in my last year, before retirement, to Truck 12 in Ettrick. I would go from a ladder with a platform to a straight stick. It was another opportunity to relearn my job, right up to the very end. T12 was a slower unit, call wise, than T14, but as I told you in a past article, I had learned to be content wherever I was assigned. We still got many opportunities to do truck work.
Standard ops on this truck were different than T14, but, in the end, the result was the same. I was blessed to have served on truck companies in my last four years on the job. I retired in 2010, thankful to have had the opportunity to live out a dream.