Rig the Game: First Time With A Charged Hoseline
On the fateful day of February 1, 2016 and after we were presented before the Olongapo government employees , Sir Angie Layug asked me to come to their office in Marikit Park that afternoon. It was like he was finally resigned to the idea that I was among the final six to go to America. There was always that big a chance that I wasn’t going to make the cut.
“Jeff, turuan mo na nga ‘tong si Doc kung paano gumamit ng nozzle,” said Sir Angie. He ordered that one of the new fire engines be used and that we go around near the condemned Olongapo Convention Center to try it.
Jeff acknowledged the order and suggested we go to the nearby Gordon College instead because of the demolition going on in the Convention Center. The only problem that kept us for more than half an hour was that Jonathan was nowhere to be found. This theme wherein Jonathan was always missing or aloof at that crucial moment when needed was a recurring one especially in the US. This earned him the nickname “Freelance Freddy” bestowed upon by fellow American recruits.
It was the first time I was able to ride the new Olongapo Fire Truck and it was kind of awesome given that doctors should never ride fire trucks. Medical doctors treat patients. They don’t go to a fire to find them.
The Maestro and the Pupil If it’s your first time to get Jeff Lapid to teach you, you’d be scared. He’s the Maestro of Fire and Technical Rescue in Olongapo City. Some of the stuffs that he knew were taught by international firefighters and US Navy personnel. He has gone overseas multiple times to train. But most of the stuff he already knew were from personal experience. This sum’ bitch has charged into a lot of fires that could have killed him. He even had the experience of going in a live fire with no SCBA and just a wet face towel on his face. This guy’s one tough batang Gapo, so it’s alright to be scared.
Jeff holding a hydrant wrench while I look in amazement at the Japanese inscriptions on the fire truck console while putting on Jeff’s already-used gloves. Just a side note though, none of the structures in the background of every one of these pictures was left standing. The Olongapo Tennis Club at the background was demolished along with the Olongapo Convention Center and the Gordon College while we were in the US. You can see on the street in the picture above is the name Anne Gordon, my wife’s aunt. She was once the first lady of Olongapo and completed various construction projects. The road we were standing on was only 4 years old and was demolished to give way to the new SM Olongapo Convention Center.
Jeff Lapid demonstrating how to attach the Php 20,000 nozzle on the 1 3/4 inch hose line. I never knew a damn thing about hoses and hose lines. When Jeff showed me the lugs, the nozzle tip, and the bale, I immediately forgot all of them after a few minutes. Honestly, at that time, I thought it was just an over-sized garden hose. Point then shoot. Little did I know was that the smallest of details was going to be important when your life finally depended on them.
Jeff telling me to hold the nozzle like a gun because it could have a huge kickback if I didn’t hold it right. ” Gandahan mo naman yung picture mo ,” said Jeff. “Against the light.”
So we rotated to take some of the shots away from the sun which was already setting. In retrospect, the PPE I was wearing, also owned by former Subic Vice Governor Anne Gordon, was not enough for this practice exercise. If the pressure was increased to that needed for actual firefighting, like 100-120 psi, the hose I was holding could create a hole in my skull. Always wear your firefighter helmet and invest in a heavy duty workman gloves to ensure proper safety. Safety glasses can make do if your helmet doesn’t have a visor.
My first exercise: Put water in a pail. Jonathan with the assist!
This was funny. In reality, when a Filipino fire truck comes to a fire, a lot of the people in the community will have pails with them for you to fill. Instead of attacking the base of the fire, people will urge you to fill their pails to fight fire in their own houses. This was wrong but there have been instances wherein an angry mob have mauled a firefighter to grab his hoseline to save their own propery. So for my first exercise, fill those small pails without destroying them.
Increasing the Pressure Opening the Bale to Full Standing is not the best position a firefighter should take when opening a nozzle. If the correct pressure was applied, an 80 kg person, me, could be pushed wildly in any direction when standing. This was because the center of gravity was so high, the force will easily drop a firefighter off balance. In the picture above, Jeff told the operator, Joey, to lower the pressure of the charged hoseline.
The stance I was taught above is not what I would teach today especially after what happened to Jonathan at one of our evolutions. He opened a bale of a charged hoseline while we were walking and without informing us, his crew. He flew up at least 1 feet before he was able to shut it down. He looked at me angrily and told me not to pull on the hose. I didn’t and I got scared of what he did. He could have gotten killed in front of me due to his improper communication. To this day, he still thinks I pulled him back sabotaging his would-be hero moment.
Yeah, he wanted the USAR be seen on the photograph! Jeff liked pictures and this was one such moment he had to pose to show off his Urban Search and Rescue shirt. He was on of the lucky few chosen to represent the whole country in an international simulation a few years back.
Joey Miclat Laborete was the Driver Pump Operator. Note the lack of PPE in this training. “Size 11, Doc,” said Joey Laborete. It was his shoe size. He knew that Nike’s were half price off from the price here in the Philippines. I promised him I would give him a pair if we could get our daily allowances in the US. Of course I never got a daily monetary support so I never got to buy those size 11’s.
Pictures of Filipino firefighters wearing only shirts, shorts and sandals during an operation made American career firefighters uneasy. The safety profile is slim to none. Of course, I never any of that way back in this picture. I never knew I was dancing with death.
Left foot forward as they increased the pressure. Again, I had trouble with this stance. I was pushed back slightly one step when they increased the pressure to 70 psi. Jeff wanted to take it easy on me so he never really went all the way with the water pressure. This made Jonathan quite uneasy. I think Jeff gave him a hard time on his first try with a charged hoseline. I would never know.
Shutting off the bale slowly to prevent Water Hammer.
The nozzle was one of the most expensive piece of equipment in the Olongapo Fire Rescue Team. Although the concept of Water Hammer was not yet taught to us, Jeff knew that most of the previously owned nozzles were damaged because they were shut off abruptly. In the above pic, he was teaching me to shut and start the nozzle in the proper way.
Moving around with the hose line. It was hard to walk properly with an open bale. I tried but I failed. Eventually, I tried to inch forward slowly retaining the standing stance. It was close to how you are properly supposed to do it.
Free reign. Eventually, they gave me free reign. I was able to move around and manipulate the hoseline with reduced water pressure. But more importantly, it allowed me to take this pose.
” Tingin ka sa malayo para maganda, ” said Jonathan. This guys really love to pose in front of the camera. They even taught me how to pose.
Mission Accomplished: This garden has just been watered! All in a day’s work I guess. They told me to pose against the light for this one. This is to show that we finished the training as scheduled. The structure behind me will be the new SM Olongapo Convention Center as most of it were demolished and the trees were cut down. This pic is a blast from the past. Rigged to Win I was taught to hold the charged hoseline and train but it was a part of a plan to make sure that we would win in our adventure in the US. We were to receive proper firefighter training and become instructors ourselves. But this was the only training I received prior to leaving Olongapo. It was substandard but it made me more determined to finish my mission. The best of Olongapo has got my back so I better return the favor. Hope you can get the book! This part was intentionally left out from the novel to keep the reader’s pace up to par and not bore my reader. The manuscript is already 25 chapters down at this point. But due to my busy schedule, it is taking me a while to finish. Hopefully I could get support by posting exclusives for you guys who are subscribed to my blog! If you’re not, here’s your chance:
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