The Man Behind The Helmet

Fire in a warehouse

When a firefighter is on duty, it is for 12 or 24 hours, and this duty always begins at 8 a.m., whatever its duration. Usually, the men get together around 7.30 a.m. for breakfast. It is the moment when they tell each other about the events of the night, calm or troubled, and talk about the last interventions. After that, everybody prepares for roll call and stations attributions. This is a well-oiled mechanism, as steady as a cuckoo clock, which never goes wrong, except when the beepers of a team ring for an intervention, usually a person rescue.

This day, at breakfast, a symphony of beeps suddenly resounded. Everybody was called; this was the hint of an important intervention.

A fire had broke out in a warehouse in one of the great suburbs of Lyon, but the pieces of information volunteered by the persons who had called where confused and contradictory.

The more we were approaching the site, the more the thick column of smoke confirmed us that it was not a false alarm, but a very real and quite big fire.

On top of the contradictory information about the possible presence of squatters on site, the men had a suspicion of very flammable products stored in the warehouse. There was also another difficulty: the building was located at the back of a dead end and hard to approach for the vehicles.

Several companies had been summoned, but everything ended fine. There were no squatters trapped in the building and no dangerous materials. Only an old car and a certain amount of rubbish. As soon as the fire was extinguished, the firefighters spent a long time drenching the site to be sure that the fire would not start again, before checking, with thermal detectors, that no embers were still alive under the ashes.