Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Good Day At Work

This morning around 0300 we handled a fire at local business; it was in a big "box store" type building. Came in as an alarm, also as a burglar alarm, police en route.

As we arrived, police officers on scene walk up to us reporting smoke inside. We drove a 360 and saw smoke through a couple windows, nothing heavy, looked like fog. Stopped at the truck entrance and got out. The captain decided this is where we're making entry.

The FF grabbed a halligan bar, and I got my Lil' Rex (as found HERE ). Door is a power sliding door, aluminum frame, with glass, typical of many commercial doors. It has a mortise lock, with an extended cylinder that has a protective sleeve. The captain called for a K-Tool, but, as it turns out, that wouldn't have worked, as the cylinder sticks out too far. However, locks like this are exactly what the Lil' Rex is for!

I used the halligan bar to tamp the Lil' Rex over the lock cylinder. Once it started to bite, I then let go and gave it a few good whacks with the halligan bar. Then, I put the spike in, pried up, and POOF! the cylinder popped out. Then I used the end of the key tool to trip the lock, thus unlocking the door. Total damage caused by entry ops: one mortise lock assembly. Not much compared to a door.

(Imho, one inherent problem with the Lil' Rex is the adjunct tool design - you insert the spike of a halligan bar to pry. Works great as long as you can pry up (or whatever direction you tamped the tool into the lock), but sometimes a little side to side motion is needed to help loosen the lock cylinder. I have seen pictures and videos of modified Lil' Rex tools where they remove the spike sleeve and weld on a slot for the adze, like what it's on the K-Tool and R-Tool. I have found that if you really whack the Lil' Rex in place, like I did tonight, this helps it get a better, tighter, more secure bite on the lock cylinder, and reduces the need for side to side rocking. However, it means you will likely need another tool to remove the lock cylinder out of the Lil' Rex's teeth!)

After gaining entry, I was sent to hook the pumper into the sprinkler system, so that's what I did. It's around back. I spotted close to the plug, hand jacked a section of 5" to the sprinkler connection, hooked it to the discharge, flushed the plug, hooked up a Jesus line (that's what we call a short section, not sure of the origin), turned on the hydrant, and radioed command I'm ready to support the sprinkler system on his order. Command then said we won't need the sprinklers pumped, so I started breaking down.

Ladder 1 came back to help, which was nice. I was hustling, five inch is heavy, and the hydrant was super sticky, & I was a touch winded. Once we were done I pulled around front again and joined my crew inside.

The fire itself was odd. There was an apparent power failure believer to be lightning related, which kicked on the generator. It appears the voltage spike caused some of the low-voltage components in the fire/security alarm system (of all things!) to overheat and ignite.

Fire damaged maybe two square feet of area (the guys used a can to put it out) but did what I personally would estimate as thousands in damage to their alarm system, and maybe more.

Indirect costs will include lost business, repair costs, plus the risk of gremlins - what else was damaged? Hard telling until it's found, ya know? My guess is they'll reopen in a few days.

We ran a CO call earlier in the shift that at first was thought to be a low battery. Nope. It was real. We were in masks for an hour there. Evacuated all four of the building's units too. Cracked heat exchanger.

I like days like this, where we make a difference, and prevent bad headlines like "Four Families Killed by Carbon Monoxide" & "Fire Leaves 150 Jobless", ya know?

Thanks for reading.

Stay safe, and God bless!


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