Getting On Like A House On Fire…!!!


On a recent night shift we were called to a “House fire…persons reported!”

On with the old Blues & Twos and off we jolly well went. It did,nt take us long to arrive at the scene…a semi detached house at the end of a very long street. Already on scene were the Fire Brigade lighting up the surrounding houses with the swirl of their blue flashing lights and emitting a mechanical humming from the engines.

Most of the darkened street was covered in a haze of smoke as the fire had been put out and now they were damping down to prevent re-ignition. As I got out of the truck I could see an extension ladder up against the front bedroom window. Heavy scorching and smoke damage was evident all around the upper surface of the window frames.

With helmet and hi-viz jacket and O2 bag in hand, I looked for someone in charge. We get called to a lot of house fires with persons reported and thankfully we find that everything is okay. Just occasionally its not….and thats when things get a little bit hairy at times.

Quickly I found the officer in charge (Top Trumpton with a white helmet and black banding). He pointed me towards the fire engine where our casualty is sitting in the back with a neighbour. After making sure that we only had one casualty I climbed into the fire engine and introduced myself to the unfortunate receiver of these events.

Our truck is parked behind the fire engine so we carefully guide our patient to our vehicle where we can check her out properly. Once inside our truck we can see more clearly that she has suffered a lot of smoke damage herself! She is covered from head to toe in black soot. She is coughing like a demented seal with whooping cough after swallowing a hedgehog covered in barbed wire!

We replace the O2 mask for a nebuliser and administer salbutamol which eases her coughing slightly and notice that she has “sooting” in her nose and at the back of her throat. This is highly indicative of severe smoke inhalation and means that hot gases may well have been inhaled. Her chest sounds are wheezy and she is producing black phlegm on coughing. She appeared to have no other injuries.

This to me seemed like a straight forward job…O2/nebuliser/monitor/obs etc and of course bags of reassurrance and transport to A/E for further evaluation and treatment……except…….

…..she did not want to go to hospital. In between bouts of coughing she just got more and more irate that she was not being allowed back into her house for her things, handbag etc! Whilst trying to explain the consequences of smoke inhalation we were becoming more and more concerned as to the amount of smoke fumes in our vehicle that were emanating from off this woman!

We both strongly advised/insisted that she go with us to get sorted due to the fact that she was suffering now and that later she could suffer from secondary lung damage because of the chemicals in smoke. She was having none of it, and with that off came the mask, out of the door she went and marched over to her front door past the hose reels that were snaking into her hallway and collared the Top Trumpton.

I stood there watching this woman argue that she wanted to get back in. One of the fire men, who had rescued her down the ladder, asked if she had said any word of thanks? The answer was a big fat no! She was so wrapped up in her own world she was arrogant beyond belief! And no it was not due to shock or emotions or coping strategies….she was arrogant!

We still had to carry on our shift and everyone we met said we stunk of smoke. Our clothes, our hair our breath! And we were not even in the fire! At the end of the shift when I got home I stripped off outside the back door and put all my kit in a bag ready to be washed. I expect that this woman will have had to attend A/E at sometime as she will not have got away with inhaling that much smoke without some damage!


8 Responses to Getting On Like A House On Fire…!!!

  1. Emma says:

    And then no doubt that will be your fault or one of your colleagues when they get called back because she’s collapsed, she was maybe going back in for her stash…hoping her xmas funds hadn’t burnt to a cinder…..when did I get so cynical??..xx

  2. Nick Hough says:

    When do you guys, or the Fire Service, or the Police ever get the thanks that you deserve? Let’s face it, the public view you all as just a faceless organisation to use and abuse as they see fit.

    But still, you do a great job. And it’s awesome being able to read about some of your jobs.


  3. Stonehead says:

    Something similar happened in Australia quite a few years back, but it was a bloke who refused treatment. He collapsed a couple of hours later in the local pub and died. He was repeatedly urged to accept treatment and be taken to hospital. He refused repeatedly. He died. His fault. Except that various politicians and some of the media had to blame the ambulance and fire services. And let me guess, who would have been first to criticise the emergency services if they’d “kidnapped” the patient and taken him to hospital against his will?

  4. Kingmagic says:

    We will try and convince someone to come with us if we really feel that they are in danger of serious ill health or further trauma.

    People with minor ailments/injuries we will either treat on scene and/or refer to their GP.

    You just know which ones need to go to hospital…but if they decline then its their life in their hands.

    Most people are sensible. Every now and then you get to meet one of natures rebels who, either through being pig headed or just plain arrogant, will test the patience of a saint.

  5. Any one who come in to contact with the public on a daily basis will tell of those ‘slack jaw’ moments, where their actions leave you either speechless or incredulous, you just couldn’t make it up.
    Maybe Trupmton should have offered to take her back to the top of the ladder, for a re run according to her wishes, i.e to leave her there,and save the rest of the emergency service the time, trouble and the risk to them selves.
    ‘Nowt as funny as folk’

  6. bendygirl says:

    Oh my goodness, that’s dreadful! I reckon there must’ve been something in the house she wanted to get, perhaps before the police turned up? BG

  7. Hi There–

    I am an author with two young adult novels published and a third in process. My third novel, which I’ve talked about on my website,, is about a young woman who lost her entire family in a house fire when she was five. The novel has been accepted by my publisher and they give me the liberty of designing my own covers. The picture you have featured here fits to a T the description of the house Callie lived in as a child. Do you think I could use it to incorporate into my cover art? Is this your original photography? (Because it’s really quite impressive.)

    Please let me know what you think. I’ll look forward to hearing back from you.


    Kim Freel

  8. kingmagic says:

    Kim…feel free to use it.I googled the pic with a search like ‘house fire’ or something similiar. Good luck with the book. Will pop over to your site and have a look…Kingmagic.

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