Charles Beroth was just about done fighting fire. He gave me his gear at my first training fire and I never gave it back until they found me some newer gear. I had socks in the toes and the suspenders pulled up as high as they would go. The helmet was all mine. Plastic with an add on shield. I remember rubbing it along the floor to breath the clean air. That shield kept the splinters out of my nose. It had a huge spring that wrapped around the rear part of the helmet.
Mom had let me drive the old 67 Plymouth station wagon and finally sold it to me. I was driving it the night I fought my first in the district fire. A 2 story farm house was burning on Vienna-Dozier. The first 2 trucks to arrive each pulled on each side of the house and pulled hoses. Both pumped the water into the single story rear part of the house. I arrived and parked way down the road that was lined with pickups and cars blinking their flashers. The flashers were all out of sync. The first Vienna truck 121 was pulling out after using all the water. Old Richmond’s truck followed suit. Our newest truck 221 was in the yard and the Fire Chief Harold Jent was telling the trucks to pump water into 221 when they came back. 221 had cross lays pulled to the front door and upstairs porch. The back doors were open on the back of the pumper and 2 firemen were wearing the Scott Air Paks. I was asked to ladder the porch roof and then help hook up the trucks. I got 2 supply hoses of the back and hooked them into the tank fills.
It was funny I don’t remember the fire-ground noise after I crawled up on the hose bed to get the supply line. I laid out the lines before either 121 or 127 got back. I stood watching the firemen on the porch roof. The Chief was standing on the roof just off the ladder. The fire had been pumping out brownish -grey smoke from the upper windows. The downstairs line had stopped the fire in the 2 story section of the A side. The single story kitchen was still burning and the roof was sagging near the 2 story portion. Years later I found out this was feeding the upstairs fire smoke and heat. The crew on the porch roof was taking a beating each time they would crawl in to the windows and try to put out the fire. The crew backed out one time and must have hit the bale of the nozzle on the window because it started flowing water and knocked them off their feet. The Chief grabbed the line and went down too but the ladder kept everyone on the roof.
The smoke turned to steam and the water ran out. 109 arrived and with the fire building up again we got their water, all 300 gallons of it. I was enough for some knock down and 127 to get back. I got to put out and help overhaul the kitchen. I am to this day amazed at how much ash and material is on the floor after a heavy fire. We shoveled out the windows and through a wall on one side. I never knew what we were looking for or just thats what we did. I found out the House fire was determined to be a kitchen fire. We finished up and I helped get the hose up and cords and lights rolled and we went back to the station. When we got to the station I helped fuel trucks and cleaned equipment until Roy Lewis hollared at all us cadets to go home. We left early and I never remember leaving early again.
I think I was the only one that was not “ALL Hands Workin'” that night. I had time to watch while standing on the pump bed and panel. I thought I was the only one that didn’t know what to do next but a whole bunch of us were in the same boat. Mostly we waited and did what was told. WE started losing some of the 12 cadets after this fire. That’s a story for another night… Night Yall