Anatomy of the fire call given

By Ajo Copper News staff

Ajo Copper News of Ajo, Arizona

When local firefighters arrive at a fire, they often get asked the same question: "What took you so long?" The answer isn't simple, says Lt. JD Allen of the Ajo/Gibson Volunteer Fire Department.

"When a fire is first spotted by bystanders, a 911 call is made, at least we hope there is. Many times people assume others have called. If you see fire, call 911," said Allen. "One of the questions we first ask dispatch is 'Have you received multiple calls?' If the answer is yes, we know we have a serious event.

After 911 is called, the Pima County Sheriff's Department dispatcher will set off the fire department's VHF pagers and then describe briefly what the call is. "At that time our firefighters respond to the station," said Allen. "Some live close by, some live at the edge of the 5 Acres area, so getting to the station is sometimes the longest part of our response time.

Once at the station, the first person in the door normally starts our two first-out engines. They have to build up air pressure before they can move. Next, the firefighters begin to put on protective gear - pants, coats, and helmets - then, on the way to the scene, air packs that are mounted in the seats are put on." The firefighters often practice getting their gear on quickly.

Normally an engine will not leave the station with fewer than four firefighters, so the first four to arrive go on the first-out truck. Four firefighters is the safe minimum to operate a structure fire, according to Allen. The truck then heads to the call. If the first-out truck has confirmation that a second truck will also be responding, it goes straight to the scene. If not, that first truck must stop at a hydrant and drop hose before continuing onto the scene.

Once on scene, while most firefighters are finishing securing gear and pulling hoses, the driver/engineer will put the truck in pump, then move to the pump panel to begin opening and operated the various valves needed. "Nothing on a fire engine is automatic. If things are done too quickly and a step missed, injuries can occur," said Allen. "For us, a successful call is one where everyone goes home safely.

"Sometimes it appears to be controlled chaos on scene, but it is not. Every firefighter has a job to do, and they do it well," said Allen. "We train every Tuesday. We do not always train outside in the public eye, sometimes we have tabletop scenarios or online training. Now that it is warming up, you will see us out training more and more And after training you can often find us out to eat, spent out of our own pockets. No department money is ever spent on meals on Tuesday nights."

The lieutenant invites everyone to "friend Ajo Fire on Facebook, we try to add pictures of trainings and some calls."

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