©01 The Media Desk http://themediadesk.com
The Desk had two things to do Saturday. Take the Girls to a Community Day in a small town near Dover, and then go up to another small town and make fun of the Captain of the RAVEN being another year older. OK... simple.... Right? right...
Free food, including TCBY "It's fat free" owner John Dill kept saying, games, fire trucks and gear, and drawings for prizes.
OK, that's fairly standard fair for a Fire Company Open House.
But wait a minute... There's garbage trucks over there, a mobile decontamination unit, a marine rescue boat, and something that looks like a monster truck.
Well, this is Little Creek, Delaware, and they are not your standard Volunteer Fire Company.
As explained by Debby Frye, company member and wife of Deputy Chief Keith Frye. While the company doesn't cover a large population, they do cover a lot of different types of territory. Including highways, industrial sites, wildlife refuges, swamps and marshes, and several miles out into the Delaware Bay. As well as your usual selection of homes and trailer parks.
On the Bay and the inland waterways they work a lot with the Marine Police, the US Coast Guard, and the Delaware State Police air units for search and rescue. "But I don't go out in anything more than a couple of feet deep that I can't see through where there's things that bite." Mrs. Frye said with a grin. Evidently she doesn't like crabs and sharks and snakes.
"We maintain the Decontamination Unit for the whole county." The lady told the Girls. It is a fully self-contained three stage decon unit. Complete with showers and storage for the different types of chemicals and equipment for everything they are likely to face. If the Salem Nuclear Power Plant melts down... well, some things they just can't handle.
Sometimes they roll out on a call and don't know what they are getting into. "Somebody saw smoke and don't know where it's coming from." It could be a car, a mobile home, a trash fire, or nothing at all.
This is the second year for a community day on this scale at the station. Co-sponsored by Eastern Shore Environmental, the Little Creek Fire Company, Leipsic Fire Company, and TCBY "It's Fat Free!" Last year the day was such a hit they decided to do it again. And do it they did. An amazing array of dessert type food, that were not fat free Mr. Dill, supplied by the town grocery store greeted the eye. The kids were slowly turning blue from cheek to cheek from cotton candy, those that were red and yellow had had their faces painted. Every hour on the hour they drew tickets for prizes, and the dunk tank was a big hit. Even if there were no major league pitching prospects in the crowd.
Mrs. Frye took the Desk and the Girls on a tour of the station, also pretty standard fare for an open house. She put Beth in some of the gear and let them see how heavy it all was. "Without the air tank it all weighs about sixty pounds." That's more than Beth weighed without it. See picture on page 2 here.
Back outside she pointed out various features on the trucks. But then she got word ... "Hey Debby!" "Whazup?" ... that her husband was getting into the dunk tank and had to go take care of business. For the record, Mrs. Frye doesn't exactly throw like a girl.
But the Girls had had enough Fire Company Open House. With an hour to go before the Birthday Party... the Desk gave the Girls the option of driving through the Wildlife Refuge or going out to the bay to look for shells and rocks, they picked the Delaware Bay. See photo page 3.
They found some shells. And laughed at the waves. "Is that New Jersey over there?" And that kind of thing.
A bit up the road they saw smoke.
A little bit further up the road, you could see more smoke, and occasionally flames from an island across the inlet from the boat ramps and dock.
The Desk and the Girls discussed whether or not anybody would have reported it already. Then they decided to drive back to the firehouse and the Girls would find Mrs. Frye and let her know about it.
As the Desk hobbled down the alley from the parking lot they ran to find the lady. In a couple of minutes she was asking the Desk for the exact location. Then she got her husband. Soon they were on their way out there in one of the Fire Company's pickup trucks to investigate it.
The Desk was sitting having a cold drink and some ice cream "It's Fat Free" next to 'Bud' a longtime member of the company when Mr. Frye's voice came over the radio requesting dispatch of boat one.
The company had already had one call during the open house. A medical call which rolled out one engine and the ambulance. Last year, they said, nothing had happened all day. Now they were sending out several trucks and a good number of members on what could be a nasty mess.
"The mud in these marshes around here is just like quicksand. You can be in up to your knees before you know it." Mrs. Frye had said.
It took a minute for them to round up the members and equipment they'd need, and it took a minute for the Desk to round up the Girls. Then they rolled out right behind one of the pumpers on their way out to Port Mahon.
"The fire's on Kelly Island." Deputy Chief Frye pointed at the stand of weeds and small bushes across the inlet. "There's no way to it except by boat." See Page 4 Marsh Fire.
Putting the Marine Rescue boat in the water was a well orchestrated drill. The Deputy Chief got some pleasure boaters to move, then when the department's Brush Truck pulled in with the boat in tow they backed right down the ramp and the fire fighters began to load the equipment they'd need. In just a matter of a couple of minutes, they were on the way to the island to evaluate the fire.
The whole drill reminded the Desk of a NASCAR pit stop. Every man had a job, and did it without more than a word or two to anybody else.
When asked the Deputy Chief said he couldn't speculate 'officially' but this time of year, with everything as green as it was, most likely the fire had help starting out there. The island has no dock facilities, no structures, nothing. There was no lightning in the area. He didn't say it, but he said it without words. Somebody set the island on fire, and they had to go out there by boat to do it.
Now Mrs. Frye took on the job of Press Relations Officer and explained to the Desk what the crew would do when they got out to the island. The local conditions, which means: how deep the mud was, and which way the wind was blowing would dictate their line of attack, and whether they called for more help. "Most of the time when we come out its because some duck hunter or fisherman got in trouble. Usually it's a medical emergency." She told a story about a guy that had a diabetic episode on a fishing boat a couple of weeks ago. They got him back to the dock and transported him to the hospital. He survived and may be a little wiser for the experience.
Except Nature didn't want to cooperate. It was high tide, and the wind was kicking up even stronger. The boat pilot radioed in, there was no safe landing place, nowhere to land the boat on the island where the fire fighters could get to the fire.
Now the flames could be seen easily, except when the Desk aimed its camera at the island, of course.
Half an hour later the fire crew in the boat were on their way back. There was nothing they could do. While the Little Creek Company has a lot of equipment, and they are ready for almost anything. They don't have an actual Fire Boat. The closest one is Wilmington, sixty miles away. Unless this fire threatened homes or the Air Force fuel dock nearby, it won't be asked to come down and assist to protect marsh fly and mosquito habitat.
"We'll come back out and check it from time to time. It's possible for sparks to blow across the inlet and start it up on this side." The Deputy Chief said.
Time for some more "It's Fat Free." The fire crew pulled the boat out and took things apart. This part was more relaxed and not quite as well orchestrated. But they were still fairly efficient. Not quite a pit crew, but not the Keystone Cops either.
Soon everybody was back at the station.
Seeing the firefighters in action, even if there was nothing they could do against the Enemy in the Marsh, seriously impressed the Girls. And the Desk as well. Where this was just going to be a cute little write up about the Community Day, to be lost in the Humor section with Mr. Dill's repeated "It's Fat Free" line as a running gag. It has graduated.
The Desk and the Girls leant a hand taking down the tables and putting up the food. The Fire Fighters were washing down the boat and trailer. The Bay is Salt Water, given the necessity of keeping everything in top condition it cannot be allowed to corrode with the brine in and on it.
The Little Creek Ladies Auxiliary worked wonders taking it apart just as they had setting it up. Before long what had been a huge garage full of tables and popcorn machines was back to looking like a huge garage for fire equipment.
Later the Desk noticed there was a slight problem with the van. It seems the back tire had a slight problem. But that too can be fixed. But seeing as how it was now two hours past the party... Oh well.... He got older without us.
The Marsh Fire was still burning late that night. If it ever goes out... the Desk will post the update.
For More Information visit the LCFC Website
To Little Creek Community Day Photo Set 1
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