A comment was made to me recently regarding relating stories from the streets and alleys of Battersea where I'm employed as a firefighter. Once upon a time I did this regularly, then after a wee hiccup, decided against it. What I have to say is that since then there has been much bloggable material but I've refrained from putting these stories into the written form. But I have enough material for a book and, while sat on the loo at the fire station, mulled this over in my mind. If I start work on it now it could be finished by the time my 30 years pensionable service are complete (under five years to go).
It’s been a while since I posted a report from the bad lands of SW11, home of the iconic power station and abode for abandoned dogs and cats.
That’s because the natives of Battersea have been reasonably well behaved of late and so have curtailed their blogability. This was put right in the wee hours of this morning when we were called to a fire in a nearby road. There was no precise address given but located within said road is an accommodation block for transient, rehabilitating folk with a fondness for illicit substances.
Sure enough, on arrival at the loose location for a fire, no precise address was required as the smoke issuing from the second floor of the block mentioned above indicated the location of the blaze.
So, two of Battersea’s finest and I make our way to the second floor armed with hose reel, axe and enforcer and rigged in breathing apparatus.
A cursory bang on the front door precedes the inevitable transformation of the door’s status as wooden security barrier into matchwood.
But what’s this?
Before I can issue the order 'smash the door down,' a bleary-eyed, Kappa tracksuit-clad resident answers the door (incidentally I'm creating a guide to fire service orders that won't be found within the Fire Service Drill Book. 'Smash the door down' sits alongside another order I issued recently that went like this: 'get tooled up'.....another story).
Anyway, imagine the scene: three gear armed firefighters stand on a landing on the second floor while a blinking, unshaven resident stands in the darkened flat looking out.
‘What the fuck do you want?’ he grunts.
As I consider politely explaining that we’re in attendance to extinguish the developing fire in his kitchen, I decide to dispense with the formality. My hand, placed squarely in his chest with moderate force, reduces him to a sitting position and we charge over him into his kitchen.
Whatever food he had decided to cook prior to heading off to the land of nod is now ablaze and threatening to engulf the whole room (KFC was obviously closed). I mentally log the requirement for me to educate Mr Kappa tracksuit in the folly of combining cooking and sleeping and set my lads the task of extinguishing the fire.
The remarkable quality of water to cool and smother the hot red stuff is demonstrated in quick time and after ensuring that the fire is out I seek out Mr Kappa tracksuit.
He’s no longer seated in the hall by the door.
He must be outside then.
Nope, not outside.
With a neighbour?
As I wander about the flat and pass the bedroom I notice a form beneath the crumpled, dirty duvet.
I enter the darkened room and click on my torch.
Sure enough Mr Kappa, still clad in his tracksuit, is curled up in his bed and sleeping like a baby.
Meanwhile two hairy-arsed firemen drag a sodden and dripping hose out of the flat, the fire alarm continues to howl like a menopausal banshee, and the acrid smell of burning lingers in the air.
I make sure the flat is free of smoke and Mr Kappa is tucked in and we leave.
There is a fear among my colleagues that as we continue to fit domestic smoke alarms in every residence in London and carry out HFSRAs (Home Fire Safety Risk Assessments) that real firefighting action will become as redundant as Cliff Richard’s penis.
Not as long as Kappa tracksuit wearing customers continue to do their best to burn London to the ground.