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How to attract firemen / firefighters without a fire!
It must be some kind of destiny in my family to have contact with the Fire Brigade and fireman. Twice in two years I have ended up with half a dozen firemen wandering around our home whilst I am clothed only in a dressing gown and little else. In each case there has been no fire, yet we have had a full sized fire engine in our communal car park, and loads of fit, dishy, uniformed firemen filling up our tiny rented cottage.
I reckon it all began some years ago when our Mother married the Fire Chief of Guernsey some years after my Sister's and my own, real Father had died. Before this I can't say that either of us had any previous contact with the Fire Brigade. We hit it off with James immediately, and he proved a very helpful person to know in the event of any emergency, his military style practicality and common sense, being an absolute Godsend in the event of unforeseen crisis arising.
The first crazy incident that caused one of us to end up with a house full of firemen was when my Sister Hayley lived in "Golder's Green", (an area of London heavily populated with orthodox Jews, complete with ringleted hair, long black beards etc).
Hayley had gone out for the evening, and upon returning home to her flat realised she had lost her keys and had no way of getting back into the property. She immediately panicked as it was late at night and she had nowhere else to go. Not knowing what else to do she phoned our Mum in Guernsey in floods of tears explaining that she had no idea how to get back into her flat and was currently stranded out on the street in London in the early hours of the morning.
Mum quickly passed the phone over to our Stepfather James, (who had by now retired from the Fire Brigade) in the hope he might be able to suggest an easy way she could gain access to her flat. Strangely enough he had a very good idea, albeit not the obvious solutions such as easy ways to pick a lock or contact a neighbour. No, James suggestion was that Hayley should call the Fire Brigade, tell them she thought she had left her iron on, and had lost her keys and could not get back into her flat to check. Of course because of the fire risk the fire brigade would have to come out to check out the problem, and they would get her into her flat one way or another. James reassured Hayley that as it wasn't an actual fire, the Brigade would not arrive with sirens blaring, but would simply turn up quietly and get her back into the flat.
Comforted by this thought Hayley took James's advice and phoned the local Fire Brigade, telling them she was fairly sure she had left her iron on, but could not access the property to check it out. The Fire Brigade promised to come straight out to her, and told her to wait for their arrival.
Hayley duly waited, expecting the fire engine to turn up quietly and assist her in re-entering her flat. You can imagine her shock when a full sized fire engine came roaring around the corner into her street some 10 minutes later, all sirens on full blast, complete with flashing blue lights etc. Almost immediately all the local Jewish community were out on their doorsteps, complete with ringlets, beards and black hats, no doubt concerned as to where the fire was!
Hayley was totally embarrassed, but could not give the game away now and had to let the farce continue. The Firemen got out all the ladders required to reach Hayley's flat which was several floors up, and whilst part of the crew were intent on getting to the correct floor Hayley was chatting to one of the crew who was still on the ground. Her concentration had lapsed, so when they heard a shout from above it was from the fireman who was at the top of the ladder to say he had managed to open a window into her flat. He called down, "I can see a coffee table on a blue carpet, is that right?". "No" Hayley said puzzled. "what about flowery curtains and a toy teddy bear?" he called back. "No, that's not right" she said. "Oh my God" he said, "Is Jeremy Beadle going to jump out of somewhere any second?", (Jeremy Beadle used to do a show a bit like Candid Camera on TV where wind up jokes were caught on film).
It turned out they were of course in the wrong flat, and had to move all the ladders one flat to the left to get into the correct one.
Eventually Hayley did get back into her flat with their help, but to add to her embarrassment, she told a girl she worked with about it the next day. The girl said at the end of Hayley's story, "Yes, but it still counts as a shout doesn't it!"
It turned out that the girl's Husband, unbeknown to Hayley, worked as a fireman for the same fire brigade, so Hayley had now landed herself in it completely and told her all about how the call was not genuinely because of an iron being left on unattended.
Fortunately the girl must have kindly kept it to herself, or her Husband saw the funny side, as no more was mentioned on the subject again.
Around 2 years ago my Husband and I had an oil fired AGA, heating the rented property we live in. All had gone smoothly using this AGA for the first year, but then, suddenly we started to get a terrible smell of oil in the house, and before three days were out we found the smell was becoming overwhelming and even our clothes stank of oil. Our eyes were streaming constantly and life was becoming unbearable. What we didn't realise was that not only was our own oil leaking from pipes under the floor, but also our neighbour had blocked up the ventilation in the outhouse connected to our property where the Landlord kept the boiler running for the communal central heating system. The smell of oil had become so bad that the same neighbour called out the Fire Brigade, and they turned up on our doorstep whilst I was soaking in the bath trying to lose the smell of oil from my body and hair.
Richard called up the stairs to me and said "Cindy, the Fire Brigade are here", to which my reply was "Goody, send them up".
Of course they rapidly checked out the property very thoroughly, turned off our AGA and confirmed that our property was full of Carbon Monoxide Gas, although obviously that was not the cause of the smell which had come from the oil leak. They turned on immense fans trying to suck out the poisoned air, but even after half an hour the air was still not safe, and they told us to sleep elsewhere to be on the safe side.
All in all I spent about an hour and a half wandering around in my dressing gown in front of all these dishy fireman, not sure whether to be grateful for God's gift to me, or to be embarrassed at my lack of clothing.
As it goes Richard and I ended up going to the pub for the evening, by which time we decided it was worth the risk of sleeping back at home again because the landlord had been out and drilled a load of holes in the outhouse door to ensure full ventilation to the communal boiler was restored.
An eventful evening to say the least!
A word of warning, never, ever, let a DIY challenged Husband who has consumed a few beers in the pub beforehand, attempt to re-plumb in a washing machine. This is exactly what mine did about three nights ago at about 11.30pm at night.
Richard decided upon his return home from the pub that now was the time our washing machine needed to be moved from the bathroom into the corridor on our landing, and then be re-plumbed into the drainage system under the bath.
I did tell him to leave it until the following day when we would have other, DIY knowledgeable people around to help out such as my Step Dad, but Richard insisted he could move the machine and would not attempt any plumbing until the following day. Foolishly I believed him and carried on watching TV whilst he banged and crashed around upstairs.
At one point he did return downstairs and told me to not come upstairs for at least half an hour. I gave him an 'old fashioned look' but decided to let him get on with whatever he was doing in the hope it would turn out okay. BIG mistake!!!
About half an hour later I was still laying on the sofa when I heard drips landing on the arm of our leather sofa. I called upstairs to Richard to say we had water coming through the ceiling. His reply was "Don't worry, I am sorting it now".
Within a further couple of minutes the water flow was getting heavier and I was again calling up the stairs. The note of slight panic was in Richard's voice by now as he realised he could not stop the water flow. During the next few minutes the water had now formed into a torrent that was pouring through our lounge ceiling and was covering the sofa, tables, rug, electrical appliances etc.
Neither of us could find the stop cock to turn the water off at the mains, and I was calling Richard all the names known to man including "Blithering idiot", "F*****g twat", "Fool" etc. About then the water starting pouring on to the downstairs light fittings and the power went off. So, in the dark, I had to move the electric fire away from the torrents of water, as well as all the mobile phones, remote controls for TV etc etc.
Richard called down to me that I needed to call out the Fire Brigade, so as the lounge was like Niagra Falls by now, I fumbled my way up to our attic room and managed to dial 999 in the dark from the extension phone.
Having rapidly explained the problem to the Fire Brigade I got off the phone and called my Step Dad (who you may remember is the retired Fire chief here in Guernsey, and formerly Senior Officer in Liverpool). His advice was to turn on all the cold taps in the household full blast to try to drain off as much water as possible the conventional way, and therefore reduce the flow leaking into the lounge. We did this, and it helped slightly. By now we had about 6 neighbours who had turned up and were trying to help us locate the stopcock, as well as attempting to stem the flow of water. Again, I am wandering around in my dressing gown having had a bath shortly before Richard had returned home after his night out.
By now it is after 1.30am in the morning, the lounge is about an inch under water and the Fire Brigade have arrived. In addition to this we have about 6 neighbours frantically trying to help us by rounding up our TV and moving it to another property, searching for stopcocks, producing torches etc.
Yet again I have over 6 firemen, some from the full sized fire engine and some from the four wheel drive landrover, running around our house whilst I am only wearing a dressing gown, only this time there are also 4 male neighbours and 3 female neighbours as well.
Eventually whilst I sat shellshocked and cursing my hubby in the bedroom (accompanied my kitten 'Squish'), the firemen found where to turn off the water, which ended up being right under the eves in the attic bedroom. Then the next phase began, where everyone started mopping up by torchlight and using lights attached to an extension cable linked into the outhouse.
With equipment borrowed from the Fire Brigade such as a pump, we managed to suck out most of the water. Shortly after the Brigade left, (having loaned us the pump until Monday), my Step Dad James also turned up (time now about 02.30am). Our neighbours had done as much as they could and helped with mopping etc, but even they needed their sleep and had to go home.
Eventually only Richard, James and I were left, and on the quiet Richard asked James if I could sleep at their place that night as I think he knew he was in for a right rollocking otherwise. James agreed and I drove back and slept on their couch for the night and this gave Richard time to clear up all the mess before I retuned the following day at 8pm.
So yet again we had a houseful of Firemen when all I had on was a dressing gown. Seems to be becoming a habit!
Of course Richard is not telling anyone about the real cause of the flood, and although it is true the connection under the bath which he was attempting to plumb the washing machine into was a dodgy bodged fitting, he did not tell the neighbours, the firemen or the landlord how the flood happened. Only my parents and I know the truth, and that is that Richard decided to move the washing machine after some alcohol, and late at night, as well as with little DIY knowledge. To cap it all we have had to claim off the household insurance for a new sofa, Video/DVD recorder, heater and rug. A total of well over £800. We are just lucky the majority of the floors downstairs are tiles not carpet.
I guess the only reason I have not quite throttled him over this is because I had the chance to cool off at my parents place overnight, plus he tidied up pretty well although we are still drying out here. If we hadn't taken out the household contents insurance two weeks ago though I think I would have definitely throttled him by now.
So you see. There is no need to have a fire in order to meet a dishy fireman. Simply get locked out of your home, flood it, or have an oil leak, just make sure you are not wearing many clothes when they turn up, and keep your fingers crossed, (if not your legs!)