Jan 232014
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Hi Masshole Mommy readers!  Chris here again with another guest post.

You may remember my last post, which was about the time I lost my virginity with my first fire.  Now I am going to tell you about one of my scariest times as a fire fighter.  One of the reasons is was the most terrifying was because this time I was a leader and had five younger guys looking to me for answers and to make decisions.

It started in the summer of 2003 and it was one of the worst times for wild land fires in the Midwest.  There were millions and millions of acres of fires in some really hard to reach places.

The fire chief gave us the assignment of saving the power for three counties.  On top of a nearby mountain there was a transformer building which was threatened to become overcome with fire and/or have trees fall on it.  If that happened, it would knock out power for over 11 towns.  My job was to get to the building & not let any fire come near it and keep from any trees from falling on it.  The access road was blocked because so many trees had already fallen down from the fire, so we would have to walk up the mountain – which already was consumed with fire on two sides.  

We put on our water back packs, which is basically just a big water gun which holds 15 gallons of water (Yes it was very heavy! Especially in the middle of day with the temperatures at about 95 degrees already and the fire probably added another 10 degrees on top of that).  Since the transformer was at the top of the mountain, we just hiked straight up.  It took us hours to reach the top, but once we got up there, we got busy cutting down trees that were near the building and making sure they fell away from the building.  

Towards the end of the day we were supposed to have a truck come get us after they were done clearing the road.  It turns out that crew got reassigned and we would have get out on our own because the access road had not been cleared after all and to make it worse, the mountain was consumed with fire on three sides by then.  That meant that we would have to leave a different way than the way we came.  So, after walking up the mountain and then fighting fire for hours all day, we would have to hike back down the mountain not knowing where to go.   We were each carrying heavy tools, including axes, chain saws, hoes and our own survival packs.  

We finally made it down the mountain after a nearby helicopter gave me directions.  We ended up coming upon another access road and were able to hitch a ride with a passing fire truck.

The scary part was that the younger fire fighters were looking for me to lead them down the mountain. Yes, I had a map, but I am horrible at directions.  It’s so bad that if I don’t come back in 30 minutes from walking the dog, Masshole Mommy will send one of the boys to look for me.  It’s so bad that I only go out to lunch at work if I can see my building from the eatery.  Trust me when I say that I was mighty proud of myself when I finally got us back to camp (even though we did get lost a few times).

Until Next Time,


About Christian Rue

Christian is married to Masshole Mommy. A Massachusetts native, he's happy to still be living here, but he also enjoyed living in several states & two other countries during his 20 years in the Air Force. These days, in addition to being a retired Air Force firefighter, he works for our fine government as an accountant. Chris loves movies, reading, comedy and spending time with his family.

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  87 Responses to “My Scariest Experience as a Fire Fighter”

  1. I Was specifically assigned to the Black Hills

  2. I can’t even imagine being in that situation. You are very brave and thank you for your service!

  3. You are such a wonderful person and very brave too. I mean, I can’t do what you did – that was truly an achievement that you should be proud of 🙂

  4. Wow that does sound extremely scary and just glad you made it back safely. Thanks for sharing your story here today with us.

  5. That would be scary! I can’t imagine being responsible for all of those people for something as important as this. I totally get you on the directions thing. Thank goodness I have GPS on my phone.

  6. My sense of direction is ridiculous too.

    Your experience brings a good insight to how hard such a job really can be. Even though we know it already (that it’s hard), we rarely see it (except for in movies), so it’s nice to read it from the perspective of someone who’s doing it. Glad you got up and down safely with your crew.

  7. I have no sense of direction, so I can only imagine what that would be like. Thanks for your service!

  8. That is scary. You are in good company, I just read that Bruce Springsteen’s son just became a firefighter!

  9. Thank you for sharing this. Especially, thank you for your services as a fire fighter! We appreciate you all!

  10. Ooh my goodness, I just cannot imagine being in such a dangerous position, and having those young men as your responsibility would make it so stressful! Thank you all for your service! My sense of direction is horrible too – I’m so glad they invented GPS 🙂

  11. OMG! What a scary, but great story. I have no sense of direction so- yeah that would have been horrifying to be in charge under those dangerous conditions. But the lesson here is that you were able to meet the challenge, despite what you thought, you did have a sense of direction.

  12. a courageous job with a wonderful happy ending! i have awful direction.

  13. That sounds like an enormous amount of responsibility. Not to mention intense heavy labor. I am impressed!

  14. Great performance on your part. It really shows that even in an intense moment like that you were able to succeed and get off the mountain with your men. Keep it up!

  15. That must have been very frightening especially if you have no sense of direction and there was a massive fire almost surrounding you–and as you said there were some young guys looking to you for guidance. Firefighting has got to be one of the most dangerous but necessary jobs around. Thank you for being brave enough to be a firefighter.

  16. As a wife to a vollie FF I hated the forest fire runs. Knowing that it was so easy for them to get directions confused in the heat of a fire like that. I can’t imagine being in charge of others in that situation. I would be running the other way let me tell you..

  17. I bet there are a lot of crazy stories from a fire fighter! Thanks for sharing one!

  18. I applaud you for being a fire fighter. It takes allot to do a job like that.. You should implant a gps on you, just in case you need to get back from where you came from.

  19. And to think the fire services here have recently been forced to strike because of their working conditions.

  20. I would have freaked out! My sense of direction is for the birds! Fires scare me like none the else!

  21. I think you are REALLY brave. I feel pretty scared of fire and have this OCD of checking the knob of my stove 100 times before I sleep at night.
    Thanks for sharing:)

  22. Whoa, Chris that was so scarey for you! All of that hiking with the gear itself shows how strong you are physically and the humility to follow the helicopter was courage emotionally. Wow, great post! Tell Robin that I sooooo appreciate her support right now. {did she tell you I have breast cancer?} Well, I do and I am KICKIN’ cancers ARSS!!!♥

  23. Wow, what a story. I appreciate anyone who is a firefighter, police officer or EMT – you’re out there helping others!

  24. Chris are you a smoke jumper? Thanks for doing what you do! Firefighters are heroes!!

  25. My Mom served as a volunteer fire fighter for most of my childhood and well into my adult life. I have a great appreciation and respect for all firefighters. Thank you.

  26. Wow you are very brave!!! This is absolutely great achievement 🙂
    Thanks for sharing !!!!!!!

  27. My brother in law is a fire fighter. Some of the things happen are scary. Especially when you are a newbie. I’m glad you have made it out safe.

  28. You and my husband would make a good pair – he is horrible w/ directions too, but thankfully when he goes hunting – he is in a field he is familiar with and hasn’t gotten lost. Glad you all made it out despite all the obstacles. You and your crew are the best!

  29. My cousin is also a firefighter and he sure does have a lot of stories to tell. Your very brave.

  30. As the granddaughter of a firefighter, I applaud you for your service. It takes a special kind of brave to put themselves in that kind of danger! This definitely sounds like a scary situation. I’m glad you all got back to base safely!

  31. Wow, what a dangerous situation. I hope my husband, as a future EMT never has to do one of those dangerous type assignments. Thank you for all the work you do serving the people. Without firefighters we would all be in trouble. You are a real hero.

  32. My hubby used to be a Fire Fighter…and I have heard some similar tales of terror. I don’t know how you guys did it, because fire is about THE most terrifying to me.

  33. Wow, scary! Glad you got out ok.

  34. Wow! That was very brave of you! Climbing up the mountain with that kind of heat must be the toughest job! You did a great job, Chris. Great leaders don’t give up, but keeps going! Glad you guys found your way back even though that must be very exhausting! I remember hiking up a mountain but on a smooth pathway! It was already very exhausting. Anyways, great story, thanks for sharing!

  35. Thank you for your service as a firefighter. it sounds like a very scary day was had there, and kudos for all of your had work that day saving their power. I can’t imagine carrying that heavy pack while hiking all day and being worried for my own personal safety as well as that of the team.

  36. Wow, I can’t even imagine how it felt, wearing your heavy clothing and equipment, plus hiking up and down a mountain! Thankfully your story has a happy ending!

  37. Wow, scary. I’m so glad it turned out okay. I’d be in a panic.

  38. wow how scary as a citizen i thank him for all he does

  39. Yikes that is very scary! I’m horrible at directions too, I use my compass on my phone all the time.

  40. I’m not sure I could stay so cool under that amount of pressure. It’s so good that you managed to get up there, get the job done, and lead the younger ones back to safety with you. Even if you got lost, in the end it all ended up alright. I felt panicked just reading about it though.

  41. WOW. That IS scary. And I think it’s pretty neat that you guest post on your wife’s blog…I’m gonna have to see if my hubby will do that…

  42. I am always happy to hear a story with a happy ending. I have many firefighter friends and I am impressed and amazed at the things you do.

  43. That sounds like a workout!

    My dad was back in town on deployment from the coast guard and was on the volunteer dept. back home. His mom didn’t wake him up when the alarm sounded, and as it turned out all of the guys who went died. The ceiling collapsed on them.

  44. Oh my gosh, that is scary! I am so terrified of fire. I have the utmost respect and gratitude for you and those like you who risk your lives to put out fires and save lives.

  45. Wow, what strength and bravery you have! Firefighters definitely have a difficult job, but you did well in keeping the guys under you safe.

  46. That was very scary! I can only imagine what it would be like to have people looking to you for guidance in that situation.

  47. Firefighters have my utmost respect and admiration. Carrying all that gear with how heavy it is and running into fires, you go Chris! And while this situation didn’t involve running straight into a fire but having those young guys looking at you like “What do we do” and you’re getting you instructions as you go and they’re changing, I’d be going out of my mind!

  48. Firefighters are amazing heroes. I have no sense of direction. What a scary story, yet amazing. Thanks for the share.

  49. It’s amazing how when we are faced with a challenge, we are able to rise to the occasion. It bet is felt wonderful to be able to lead the others 🙂 Congrats!

  50. GOD BLESS Firefighters! You place your life on the line for us in many ways!! Great story! You are so brave!

  51. You are an amazing hero! I can’t believe what you go through! Thank you for everything!

  52. Such a scary job. I, too, am pretty directionally-challenged. There should be a club for people like us.

  53. I am horrible with directions also and I have a degree in geography, so don’t feel bad 🙂 Great story!

  54. I used to install and fix the computers in the fire trucks and ambulances before I became a SAHM, I will leave the rest to those of you that are crazy enough to do it. You got everyone out so you did a great job. I could not imagine working under that much pressure, there is no time for mistakes.

  55. He’s an amazing person and I thank him for his contribution to society, I admire his courage.

  56. What an adventure! Scary there for a moment

  57. I got lost on Whistler Mountain once, so don’t feel too bad 🙂
    But I also didn’t have to lead others to safety, so awesome on you! Thankfully for me, Mounties are really awesome with directions. in the dark. on a mountain. also, kinda cute in the red coat, gotta say.
    anyway, my hubby is the navigator in this house. Uncanny sense of direction. He’s a cop so I suppose it’s handy to know exactly what “the suspect was traveling northbound on Smith Street and entered the building on the south-west corner of Fraser” means he should go. cause that would be a tad embarrassing I imagine.

    Can’t find the mayonnaise behind the pickles in the fridge though.
    I hope the suspect didn’t hide behind someone. 🙂

  58. So glad youre ok! How scary.

  59. I get lose constantly. I think the satnav were invented with me on mind. I once spent a whole morning trying to get out of Cardiff in Wales city center, due to one way streets. I truly admire you how you overcame that at the moment of great responsibility. The whole thing was so brave!.

  60. That sounds like a really scary situation. I’m glad that you are OK and at home.

  61. My favorite uncle was a fireman. I remember fondly the stories he shared about his work, the dangers and the rewards. This post reminded me of that.

  62. Wow, I don’t know how firemen do it. Always putting their own lives at risk for the sake of others!! Glad everything worked out.

  63. that’s a crazy situation to be in. i’m glad you guys made it in and out successfully. we’re always so appreciative of all that firefighters do

  64. That is so scary. They just had one of the worst fires here this past summer and you could see smoke on the mountain for weeks.

  65. I love reading posts like this about real life events and jobs. Kudos to you for keeping us safe and being brave enough to fight these fires. I know that things can change in a minute when you are fighting fires and it takes a lot of courage to face that every time you are called out.

  66. One word to describe you BRAVE. omg that is so scary, But the most important thing is that you guys made it out ok. Im glad that we have people like you, who would risk their lives to save another. Much Honor

  67. Thank you to all the firefighters and their families for serving! What a selfless profession. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  68. Very scary!! So glad there are brave firefighters that can assist us but being per cautious and having a plan is very important!

  69. Hi Chris,Thanks for sharing your experience sounds really scary,well done for getting through it and keeping everyone safe. i hate going anywhere without my hubby or the kiddies because i am forever forgetting directions lol.

  70. Scary indeed, just like you I am horrible with direction as well so I know how it feels. But it sounds like yo]u did pretty well leading the young ones.

  71. Holy smokes, that is pretty scary! Thank you for your service, Fire Fighters really don’t get enough accolades for what they do!

  72. Wow! That is scary! I’m not a fan of fires and have these terrible dreams that I’m burning in a house. I applaud all the work you have done and I thank you for your service.

  73. The situation when others expect you to do something that you are worst at, sound like fire test to me. Youngsters were expecting you to guide who herself was poor in directions was nothing less than an opportunity to prove “oh yes, I am smart, i can do”.

  74. First off, I think firefighters are truly the bravest and get my thumbs up always. Glad to read that the helicopter guided you and you and your team were able to make it back safely.

  75. Wow. I can’t imagine what was going through your mind thinking about just getting out of there safely with the crew. You painted such a great picture of what was going on that I felt it. I am also very terrible at directions.

  76. I can’t imagine going through that myself. Good job!

  77. I could never do that. You are very brave!

  78. Wow, I cannot imagine being in that situation. I always wonder how fire fighters can just go into a place that is engulfed in flames without fear. I would be hiding behind the fire truck. LOL

  79. Wow, I can’t even imagine. But thank you for being so brave and your service!

  80. What a scary experience. I hate the feeling of being lost and what a tough situation to be in with a crew too. Glad that it all worked out and you made it back safe!

  81. Wow, how courageous! I can’t even imagine being in that situation….so glad you’re safe!

  82. How scary. Glad you found your way out of there. Need to give yourself more credit. You led those guys to safety.

  83. My goodness, that is so scary!

  84. What a crazy experience. I’m glad you made it out okay and you should definitely feel proud!

  85. How scary! Glad you made it out ok and got everyone off the mountain safely!