Monthly Archives: June 2015

WHAT YOU CAN’T SEE CAN KILL YOU – Stories to Learn and Live By

IMG_2580Story by Captain Max Brown

When someone tells you that there are no “ordinary” fires and not to take any fire, no matter the size, for granted – heed their warning. You never know what even a small fire might be hiding. I just wish we had it on video as I’ve never seen anything like it and really hope not to again.

The fire was just a little over 15 years ago, late November and dark. The page came out as a possible structure fire, trash bag on the porch on fire. There were four of us on the truck and we arrived in just a couple of minutes to find that a police officer had kicked the trash bag into the flower bed in front of the porch and there was just a small fire.

We removed our SCBA’s and the Captain told us to fill the salvage bucket with water and dump it on the bag, so two of us did and this is when things changed. The water reacted with something in the trash bag and the fire grew instead of going out and it put off a lot of nasty smoke. We backed away and the Captain told us to go put on our SCBA’s and to get a shovel and bury the bag with dirt from the flower bed.

It took us just a few short minutes to have the bag buried and again things got weird. It looked kind of like lightning going across the top of the dirt but we believe it was just small flames. We began to wonder what we had gotten ourselves into when the Captain came over to us and showed us some “Poison” placards he had found on the ground towards the back side of the porch.

SackNow we had the bag buried, it was having some kind of reaction, and we didn’t know what we had because it was under dirt in a bag that was burning. As we discussed it a gentleman came up to us and explained that there were poison tablets to kill insects in the bag and that they are moisture reactive and the more water the more they react. He advised us that he thought foam was dry enough to smother the fire so we stretched a hand line from the truck to the fire and covered it in a heavy layer of foam and that is when the volcano, or at least that’s what it looked like, occurred.

The foam blanket would raise up in the shape of a volcano and a flame would shoot out of the center, it would go out and then shortly repeat this process. It did this several times before it had one last larger longer lasting flame and then it stopped. We stayed on scene for a while to make sure everything was okay and while waiting we got the story from the man who had told us what the tablets were.

His sister was moving into the residence and wanted to kill all bugs in the house. He told us that he worked for a grain elevator and they get these tubes of Hydrogen Phosphide tablets to place in the grain and they create Phosgene gas, I believe it was, which in turn poisons the bugs in the grain, killing them. He had placed several small aluminum tins of these tablets, which react with the moisture in the air, around inside the house and told his sister to wait 24 hours before going back in and cleaning up the tins. This would also give the house time to be safe for her and her kids to be in.

She apparently couldn’t wait so she went in about eight hours later and threw the tins with the tablets into a trash bag along with some other trash and a drink cup with some ice in it. Oh and most of the “poison” placards her brother had taped to each window and both doors. She then placed the bag outside on the front porch and the ice melted and ran into the tins causing a reaction with the tablets and starting the trash in the bag on fire.

The next day the four of us that had arrived on the firetruck, a couple of volunteers and a police officer were all sent to the hospital to have chest X-rays for possible exposure. I was the only one with any injury and had a partially collapsed lung. I was X-rayed again two or three days later and the lung had re-inflated and I had no other obvious problems.

The moral to this story is that if you didn’t start the fire, you really don’t know what’s burning. It might be trash or it might be something wild, and you need to avoid as much smoke in your career as you can. Never forget that the SCBA is your friend.


PhostoxinPhostoxin Pellets and Tablets
The active ingredient is 55% aluminum phosphide. This solid form fumigant is packaged in tablet form, 500 tablets per aluminum flask, 14 flasks per case. Pellets are packaged 1660 per flask, 21 flasks per case. These flasks are closed with a gas-tight screw stopper, after removal of part of the container it can be resealed for further storage. Phostoxin is a restricted use pesticide for retail sale and use only by certified applicators or persons under their direct supervision and only for those uses covered by the certified applicator’s certification.

ADVANCED EMT – Lieutenant Coby Spear

IMG_2697Another “Oh Happy Day!”

Lieutenant Coby Spear got the official word that he passed his Advanced EMT exam. – and his is another “1st Time Test Taking” passage.

Cardiac ECG interpretation, IVs, medication delivery, and more – the training is not much less than what it takes to become a Paramedic.

Congratulations AEMT Lieutenant Coby Spear!

FIREWORKS – Don’t Shoot Your Eye Out

*Story by Fire Chief Steve Moody

Eye OutI’m sure my sons loathed having a firefighter as a father when Independence Day rolled around each year. Yes, I’m a self-professed, proverbial “stick in the mud” when it comes to shooting fireworks.

I also understand I could be a bit biased on the matter. And, for that reason I don’t expect everyone – or many at all – to agree with me on this matter. But, I wouldn’t be properly fulfilling my role as a Fire Chief, if I didn’t say a few words about fireworks safety – by telling you a story.

This story took place on a beautiful sunny day about 28 years ago today. A group of young teens were at Milford State Lake getting geared up for a fun holiday weekend. Adding to the fun, one of the boys had brought his parent’s rag top Jeep.

Like most young people – and some older folks too – the boys hadn’t done much preplanning. They had forgotten to stock up on food and drinks. So, they decided to make a run to the convenience store. On that trip they drove by a firework stand.

Plenty of beverages and munchies were bought and placed into the Jeep (the top was up). On their way back to the campsite they decided to check out the prices at the firework stand. The prices were incredible. They were able to purchase enough pyrotechnics to put on a small town public display.
The Jeep was carefully packed – boys, beverages, munchies, and fireworks.

Jeep fire 1One of the boys – in the front passenger’s seat – was smoking a cigarette as they made their way back to the campsite. The boys talked and laughed as the cigarette burned towards the butt. Then, the smoker flicked the butt – towards the open window. Only, the butt hit the wind and made a quick U-turn – right into the back seat area – unbeknownst to anyone.

The popping of a large flat of Black Cats was official notice that the friends had a problem. For a moment the driver thought it was just a prank and kept driving. But, the first flat of fireworks progressed to another, and another, and another. Before the Jeep could be stopped the entire arsenal was exploding. And the Jeep was on fire.

All the boys were taken to a local hospital by ambulance. Two were transferred on to the St. Francis burn unit in Wichita. All the boys survived. But, celebrating July 4th – for them – was forever changed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, there’s the story. I could tell others – all true accounts of tragedy tied to fireworks. But, I don’t want to belabor my message. Furthermore, I’m not an advocate of sheltering ourselves – or our loved ones – from every risk in life. To do so would make for a very bland, boring, life. What I do advocate is to take prudent precautions when one is living life on the edge.

You’ve all read the bullet point lists of firework do’s and don’ts, so I won’t regurgitate them. My message is simple. “Use common sense.” Have a fun, safe Independence Day.

To all Past, Present, & Future Men & Women who are responsible for our Freedom – Thank You! and God Bless America!