Behind the fire lines

Bells go down. You’re up – It’s show time! 

What is it now? Is it another false alarm or is it the real thing?

Is it a fire? Shit, it’s windy today – let it be no fire today…

Big Wildfire reported, lets gooo…

You and her know each other for a long time and you have exchanged ammo many times in the past. An ongoing vendetta. 

You are on the truck, door shuts, sirens are on and you’re off. You can see the smoke piling towards the sky.

Are these clouds or is it smoke? Shit, this is smoke – this is it, the real thing – Game on!

This isn’t a game though. Shit can go haywire in the blink of an eye. The faces of your loved ones are passing through your eyes.

But you don’t share this thought. This is your mind playing games with you. You’re sharp focused now.

You can’t let your mind take control. You take a deep breath and you wear your helmet.

You’re on approach; you can see the flames now coming from the thick layers of smoke.

Starving, dragon like, tongues of fire, driven by the strong winds and progressing fast, vanishing any sign of life.

Like a scene from a movie, you can’t wait to get that branch on your hands and bring this (bitch) fire down; you’re a soldier but you don’t carry any bullets. Your ammo is water and your duty is sacred.

You’re looking at them in the eyes and you give them a thumbs up – We got this. You don’t say it. Your eyes do, along with a confident and reassuring smile. 

You can see vehicles and people leaving the area – the very area you drive into. 

‘’Be careful guys’’, a bystander shouts at you.

You’re looking at them in the eyes and you give them a thumbs up – We got this. You don’t say it. Your eyes do, along with a confident and reassuring smile.

‘’We got this shit’’ you repeat to you partner seating next to you and you give them a high five. 

Fire engine stops and you’re off.  You run at the back of the vehicle to get the hose. 

You have stepped into the battlefield now and fire is your enemy. 

You don’t hate the fire though. You respect her. You and her have known each other for a long time and you have exchanged ammo many times in the past. An ongoing vendetta. 

You pull out the hose, test it and start running towards the fire front which is on a steep slope. You can feel your heartbeat beating like crazy but you don’t care; this is what you’ve signed up for.

The steep incline and carry of the charged with water hose, has filled your legs with lactic acid making it hard even to walk but guess what; this is what you’ve signed up for. 

This is what you have been trained to do. 

You’re in position now and on your knees. Your hands are on the branch and like the throttle of an aircraft, you pull the handle back; Release!. 

You can feel the power of the water passing through the hose, through the branch and into the air. Missiles are out!

‘’Pressure (the fuck on), I need more pressure;’’ you shout to the pump operator through your radio. You pull the hose through trees, branches, bushes and uneven terrain. You need to approach closer. 

The radiant heat is felt on every inch of your body.

‘’Don’t let it escape that line guys’’ you hear on the radio.

You can see your colleagues from the opposite side. 

‘’Let’s outflanking it. This is our chance.’’ you’re saying to them through the radio. 

A firefighting aircraft is now dropping its media a few centimetres away from you but giving you an advance, a passage to progress and control the front. 

This is it. You got this front down. 

‘’Regroup guys, we need to progress further on’’ you hear on the radio. 

And it’s on – again – and again…

Author’s commentary

This article is for you; the fire-fighter, the person who signed-up to do good. 

Not for the money or the cheer but for the service. 

The service to humanity, the respect to each other.

Stay Safe brothers and sisters

My name is Avgoustinos Hadjiyiannis and I am one of you.

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