What is it like going into a fire

Running Into A Fire, As Told By A Firefighter

I hope you can now see how it all happens.


It is weird to think that when a fire happens people actually go inside to put it out. The normal human body and reactions say get out as fast as you can. Yet men and women across the world risk their lives, putting on a whole bunch of heavy turnout gear, carrying heavy tools, or pulling the hose and go into the insane environment. Going through any fire is an image that can be scary, and from the first person perspective, there are many things that still remain unseen. From beginning to end, it truly is a sensory explosion.

In the beginning, imagine sitting at home, watching television or eating dinner. All of a sudden a pager or a phone goes off, the next thing you see is yourself running to your car. Listening to the 911 dispatcher announce the call coming in over the radio band.

"Tactical Box 44-88, Attention Engine 44, Engine 88, Engine 77, Ladder 65, Ladder 8, Rescue 4, Rescue 9, Fire Reported Bensalem Boulevard and Byberry Road, in the Area; a Dwelling"

As you drive to the firehouse, all you see is cars driving past you, your heart is beating a mile a minute. Thinking, that because there is no confirmed address that it could just be something simple. You pull into the firehouse parking lot, as the other firefighters pull up at the same time. You all run inside to get your gear on. It has only been five minutes, and you hear over the radio...

"Companies responding on Tactical Box 44-88 be advised, Chief 44 is on location, Working Fire. Again companies responding on Tactical Box 44-88 be advised, Chief 44 is on location, the address is 2500 Byberry Road, the working fire has been transmitted."

Now the race is on. You climb into the fire engine and sit down. The clock has started ticking, working fire, confirmed address. Thoughts in your head keep swirling, keep thinking which seat am I in, what is my assignment, who is my crew. You see the red flashing lights of the fire truck, reflecting off of cars like a Christmas tree. Everything stops at that moment except for you and the fire truck.

Sirens scream, traffic moves to the side, the radio chatter continues in your ear. Yet all is quiet, like the calm before the storm. No one says a word to anyone in the back of the truck. You all have tunnel vision, you see and have thoughts of what is coming, but no words can truly say what is happening.

You look out the window, turning the corner to the street, the column of smoke is visible and you realize your time is now. Preparing for the battle with the fire. You know what you must do and you see what is happening. The fire engine stops and it is time to go. You hop out of the fire engine, full gear on, gloves at the ready, air pack ready, mask on. You climb around to the side of the truck and pull the first hose off the truck and run to the front door.

The first fire chief on scene is telling you what he heard when he first arrived and you say okay. You kneel down at the front door of the house masking up, turning on your air pack, that you may have the power to breathe. You feel the hose between your knees, the water rushing through it. The front door opens, right in front of your eyes what was the nice front door with the decorations saying "Welcome" now is churning.

What was once a normal scene is now black. Churning smoke with the fresh air from the inside now rushes in. You crawl in, it is hot. How hot is it? When the hottest day of the summer when it is 100+ degrees outside, seems like air conditioning compared to what you are entering. Smoke gets thicker, you now cannot see anything. What once was a clear vision is now empty. Again it becomes quiet, almost weirdly peaceful. Blackness consumes you, even with the flashlight on your helmet, it does not make a difference.

Deeper into the void, feeling around the walls, the floors, trying to find windows, couches, beds, tables. You are searching, not only for the fire but for the person that may be still inside. Yet it seems impossible, being tasked with looking for someone in complete darkness, with gloves that are thicker than a textbook it seems. Trying to hear a scream or a voice in the void of the smoke. You still cannot see what room you are in, or where objects are.

Then you hear and see the crackling, the flames licking the ceiling around the corner of the hallway. You see what appears in slow motion, the animal that is fire, living, breathing, eating its way through the house as it consumes its fuel. What was once darkness is now a display of a primal kind. Man created fire, and now man destroys fire. In slow motion you see it rolling right over your head and consuming the hallway.

In an instant the fire dies, the water coming out of the hose rips through the heart of the fire and darkness resumes again. You see it chase back into a bedroom, you run right to it. The room itself has just become your target and you now see what needs to be done. Crawling through the hallway that was just on fire, you go to the room and open the hose line and extinguish the rest of the fire. In that room you see what is left, nothing but ash. Then to make it easier to see you open the window and the smoke clears.

The vision that was once darkness and heat now turns into the red flashing lights and the night sky again. The battle was won by you, and the fire has died. Walking back outside, you can see the true devastation of the fire, a house gone, memories gone, a wedding dress gone, priceless family pictures. But the family is thankful, why? Because you saved them, you put out the fire and stopped the terror.

Now back to reality, you sit on the bumper of the fire truck, hot, exhausted, tired and dirty from the war you just fought. Your heart is still pounding and you start coming back to earth. The biggest fight of your life is over, for now. Now the cleanup begins.

Imagination over, back to the real world. Now I know that this is not something that many people really witness, except for the firefighters, but the sights and the sounds are true. The addresses used in this are not real, the streets are as well as the actual fire trucks said in the dispatch quotes.

Being a firefighter this is something that we see all the time, and many people have asked me what do you see, and it is always really hard to describe how it works. I want people to read this and just see what goes through a firefighter's mind and through what he or she sees. I hope you can now see how it all happens.

Popular Right Now

To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.

Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

In Real Life, 'Plus Size' Means A Size 16 And Up, Not Just Women Who Are Size 8's With Big Breasts

The media needs to understand this, and give recognition to actual plus-size women.


Recently, a British reality dating TV show called "Love Island" introduced that a plus-sized model would be in the season five lineup of contestants. This decision was made after the show was called out for not having enough diversity in its contestants. However, the internet was quick to point out that this "plus-size model" is not an accurate representation of the plus-size community.

@abidickson01 on twitter.com

Anna Vakili, plus-size model and "Love Island "Season 5 Contestant Yahoo UK News

It is so frustrating that the media picks and chooses women that are the "ideal" version of plus sized. In the fashion world, plus-size starts at size 8. EIGHT. In real life, plus-size women are women who are size 16 and up. Plunkett Research, a marketing research company, estimated in 2018 that 68% of women in America wear a size 16 to 18. This is a vast difference to what we are being told by the media. Just because a woman is curvy and has big breasts, does NOT mean that they are plus size. Marketing teams for television shows, magazines, and other forms of media need to realize that the industry's idea of plus size is not proportionate to reality.

I am all for inclusion, but I also recognize that in order for inclusion to actually happen, it needs to be accurate.

"Love Island" is not the only culprit of being unrealistic in woman's sizes, and I don't fully blame them for this choice. I think this is a perfect example of the unrealistic expectations that our society puts on women. When the media tells the world that expectations are vastly different from reality, it causes women to internalize that message and compare themselves to these unrealistic standards.

By bringing the truth to the public, it allows women to know that they should not compare themselves and feel bad about themselves. Everyone is beautiful. Picking and choosing the "ideal" woman or the "ideal" plus-size woman is completely deceitful. We as a society need to do better.

Related Content

Facebook Comments