Xtreme FD, LLC

Nothing Showing…….

SuitIt’s 2am and you wake up to that familiar squelch, your being dispatched to a multi-family housing unit for a report of smoke. You recognize the address as a frequent flyer for alarm calls but this time is different. Dispatch is telling you that they are receiving multiple calls for a smoke odor.
You pick up the pace, skipping the socks and leaving your coat on the hook even though it is early spring and still a little cold outside at night. Nonetheless, the report of smoke has your pulse up a little and you don’t want to miss the first engine out.
Your en-route, checking your pack, talking with your partners and putting your plan together when you hear the dreaded announcement; “chief on-scene, nothing showing, going in to investigate.” Your heart sinks, your pulse slows, and everyone sighs, your partner says “it’s probably another burnt pizza.” You begin to wonder; why did I leave my warm bed for this, I should’ve known it would be nothing. You and your brothers and sisters begin to mentally disengage from the call, waiting to shed your air packs until the chief radios back and tells you to disregard and return to quarters.
Every one of us has experienced this call; all of us have one or more frequent flyers. Nonetheless, we must resist the temptation of standing down too early. Smoke alarms do not go off without a reason. Now, that reason may be a malfunction, a child pulling the alarm, or yes, even the typical burnt pizza, but the fact is there was a reason the alarm went off.
It is important to remain on the offensive; we must assume that there is a fire until we can confirm there isn’t a fire. The report of “on-scene, nothing showing” is only a report for a specific moment in time. Don’t interpret “nothing showing” as being the same as an absence of fire. The next report you hear may be “working fire, 2nd floor apartment.”
In my TEN-23XL class I show a video where a department is dispatched to a chimney fire and the chief immediately radios dispatch and cancels the automatic aid units stating “we can handle this.” When he arrives on scene he finds the fire is vented through the roof, he then radios dispatch and has the automatic aid units re-paged. Believe me, the embarrassment and pain you experience if you are caught with your proverbial “pants down” will be far greater than the frustration of yet another “burnt” pizza call.

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