Waiting for the Bus

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Like many of those that might read this blog post (oh for the days when I recorded 300 hits a day) I was nominated by a number of friends and family to conduct the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

While I applaud the efforts normal people go to in order to raise charitable donations for deserving causes I can't help but think for some it's an opportunity to make a spectacle of themselves then dress it up as an exercise in courage and compassion.

So while being someone who likes to refuse to follow a trend I also explained that to accept a nomination for 'David and his entire fire crew' to use fire brigade equipment to soak ourselves on duty, in fire brigade time and then post it on YouTube or Facebook might result in me and my colleagues tapping the boards in a smart outfit to collect our P45s.

And that close involvement of my employer in any comment made regarding activities done in their name is one of the reasons why this blog became somewhat redundant (the fact that it was always supposed to be about running and I've run as many steps as Vanessa Feltz and Alex Salmond put together...a comment about Scottish independence on its way...is of course another).

But here I am, dipping my toe into the water of workplace story telling, because having conducted a robust risk assessment, believe I can get away with this, here goes:

So there we were, 04:55hrs on a random night duty at Battersea Fire Station. Now you have to be aware that due to the dynamic nature of our job we're allowed to 'rest' during the night time in order top be physically and mentally prepared to deal with any given situation. So it's fair to say we were 'resting.'

Rest is disturbed by the trumpeting of the alarm indicating that someone, somewhere is in trouble.

I jump up from my resting platform (you might no this by it's more common name of a bed), chuck on my trousers and shoes and make my way down three flights of stairs to the fire engine. There is a traditional pole to transport the user from the upper floors to ground in a matter of seconds but I find the stair descent provides time to engage ones brain and consider the information regarding the incident that's sent to my pager.

We're on the fire engine and out the doors in a flash of light and sound, barrelling through the streets of SW11 en route to a fire alarm in an old folks' home. The guys in the back of the fire engine are preparing breathing apparatus, the driver is negotiating his way through the virtually empty roads and I'm considering the various scenario permutations that we might encounter.

We arrive at the address to discover an old folks' home in darkness and silence with no apparent distressing occurrence unfolding. Of course that doesn't mean it isn't so a full on approach is adopted ie crashing through the security door armed with breathing apparatus, breaking in gear and mean intentions.

Once inside we stand there, wide-eyed, dressed in the latest personal protective equipment, armed with enough gear to extinguish the fires of hell to be met by a silent alarm panel and a little old lady sitting on a chair. She's dressed in an overcoat, carrying an umbrella and has a rolled up shopping bag in her hand.

'Who are you?' she asks. 'Have you brought the mobility shopping bus?'

'No, my love,' I reply. 'We're from the London Fire Brigade and we're here to respond to a fire.'

'There's no fire here,' I'm told'. 'I'm waiting for my bus. I've got some shopping to do.'

Once I've ascertained the old burd is right, there is no fire, I stand my guys down and continue our discussion.

'So this mobility shopping bus....it's picking you up here, at this time?' I ask.

'Yes,' the old girl replies. 'I've been waiting an hour.'

'What time is it due to arrive, love?' I ask.

'Ten, ten,' she replies.

'Ten past ten!' I exclaim. 'But it's only ten past five! You've got another five hours to wait!'

'Really?' the old burd asks.

'Really' I reply.

'Well fuck that, I'm going back to bed.' she says, and shuffles off down the corridor.

And this event demonstrates the joy of human interaction that my job provides.

We get back on the fire engine a little bit disappointed there was no opportunity to throw loads of wet stuff at hot stuff, a little bit glad that the lack of hot stuff means an absence of sorrow, but laughing our socks off at the Anglo Saxon comment demonstrated by the old burd before hot footing it back to her bed.

One day all of these stories will appear in a book. It'll make me rich and famous and I'll but you all a drink. But only if you comment below :-)


Vicky said...

Dangerously keen to go shopping if she's up at that time of the morning!

I'll have a Thatchers ta very much ;-)

Peter Duggan said...

You can buy me a drink anytime, Dave... no need to wait till you'll rich and famous!

Peter Duggan said...

Till you're rich and famous!

Mr C.P.Trayling said...

I fully understand your reluctance to comment on things LFB as I know it's brought you grief in the past. But I'm so glad to see you've relented on this occasion, and I promise I'll be in the queue at your Waterstones book-signing, mate.

Keith Hughes said...

Ahh man you don't use he pole ?? Illusions shattered !

Richard said...

Wet stuff at hot stuff. A simple description of a job. I'm not sure what my job description is.