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Sunday started out like most other Sundays.

I got up, went to my Room of Reflection and when I was through reflecting, I flushed and proceeded to wash my hands thoroughly with warm water and soap.

This is an important message on hygiene for the little jakes out there.

Kids; it’s very important that you wash your hands after you “reflect”. Otherwise, you might get sick and your skin may turn into the color of a giant pee stain. This will make the tattoos-that you will eventually get-odd colors. Tattoo artists will charge you more money. This ends your lesson in hygiene and finance!

I made my pot of coffee and settled in with the Sunday papers. It was turning into a nice day weather-wise and my thoughts were serpentining between golf and a motorcycle ride. Oh, such tough decisions.

But, I kept hearing a voice that was saying, “Yard work; yard work”. The voice was powerful and hypnotic. Yard work won out.

I took the key and went to my storage shed in the back yard. I unlocked the double doors and gazed proudly at the riding lawnmower that I purchased mid-mowing season last year. Bright orange, 22-horsepower engine, hydro-static controls and a 48-inch mowing deck; it takes my breath away. A yard that took me 45 minutes to mow with a 22-inch push mower now takes me 20 minutes. Hell; I go around twice just to give my neighbors a good look at my Bad Boy.

I filled it up with gas, pulled out the choke, turned the key and it fired right up. I backed it out of the shed, turned it off and got to work on the shed. I re-arranged the shed so that I could get the yard cart out and put the snow blower away. The garden stuff is along the north side and will be easy to get to when it is time.

With my shed in order, I got back onto my mower, lowered the arm rests, put my earbuds to my MP3 in, shuffled the music and fired up the mower.

The yard was full of leaves that blow into our yard from the park that is directly across the street, but I figured that the leaves wouldn’t stand a chance against my Husvarney.

The leaves tend to accumulate between my house and my neighbor’s house. I blame it on meteorological phenomena and aerodynamics. Regardless, leaves tend to get deep between the two houses.

I finished the rest of the yard and was saving the “wind tunnel” for last.

It was going very smoothly and along with the music that I was listening to, it was making for an excellent day in the yard.

And THAT is when disaster struck!

As I was pushing through the leaves, I saw smoke coming from under the front of my mower. I thought, “Did I just blow the engine on my brand new mower?”

I turned off the mower, stepped down and went to the front of my mower. That’s when I saw the FLAMES!

Relying on my many years of experience in the fire service, I calmly panicked. I was reaching under the mower and pulling the burning leaves out. The wind was blowing them towards my neighbor’s TWO storage sheds in their backyard. I was not gaining on the fire under the mower and fearing that my mower was going to succumb to the fire, I jumped back on the mower, threw it into reverse and backed up, spreading the fire as I did. Now, the neighbor’s garage was in play!

I leaped off the mower and onto my face, suffering a nasty whiplash. Momentarily dazed, I looked into the distance-some 75 feet away-and saw a rake. I waddled over to the rake, grabbed it, got a huge splinter in my hand to go with the burns that I had suffered from grabbing burning leaves and waddled back to my backyard inferno.

I started to rake the burning leaves away from the garage and working my way down to the fire that was now in between my neighbor’s two sheds. I kept raking and raking and raking. I was in a thick smoke-a choking smoke-and kept thinking, “Wear your air; where’s your air”. Thanks, Shawn!

Every time I raked, the wind would blow it back. I was losing, but I would not give up. I refused to let the Red Devil beat me, burn up my new mower and my neighbor’s garage and two storage sheds.

I dug deep down. I had to pee really bad from all of the coffee that I had drunk.

Just when I thought I had it whipped, the rotten, wooden posts that was lying between the two sheds began to burn.

In the name of St. Florian, can you please stop this onslaught of fiery despair?

I grabbed a post and discovered the very hot underside. OUCH! More insult to injury.

I had to pick up the burning posts, one at a time (there were 6) and deliver them to my garden space to flame out. Dropping them anywhere in between would start another wild land fire.

Question for the group: have you ever been battling a fire and could FEEL and HEAR your heart beating? Mine was like a baseball card against the spokes of a bicycle wheel.BBBBBBBBBBBBBRRRRRRRRRRRRRR…

By now, you’re asking, “Where was your wife?”

I know; me, too!

After I declared the incident under control, SHE finally came out in time for me to tell her what happened.

The first thing that she asked was, “Why didn’t you put water on it?”

I replied, “From where; the birdbath?”

In my excitement to get on my mower, I had failed to get the garden hose and cart out of the shed and hook it up. I think it was a set up question. A good one, though.

With disaster averted, I returned to “quarters” with a valuable lesson learned and that is:

It’s going to be very difficult to “reflect” until my hands heal, my whiplash goes away and my lower back mends!

I hope that this has, in some way, inspired all of the firefighters who will gather at FDIC for their HOT training. It is training that you will use throughout your careers and beyond.

See you at Indy!


The opinions and views expressed are those of the article’s author, Art Goodrich, who also writes as ChiefReason. They do not reflect the opinions and views of, Fire Engineering Magazine, PennWell Corporation or his dog, Chopper. This article is protected by federal copyright laws and cannot be re-produced in any form.


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Comment by Art "Chief Reason" Goodrich on April 5, 2014 at 2:06pm


I distinctly recall that, not too long ago, I recall in your blog that you were driving, saw smoke and went into firefighter mode. I thought it was pretty cool.

As I wrote this blog, I thought, "This will put me right up there with Bobby".

But then, I realized that I started the fire.

Alas; Captain Zero rides again.

Comment by Bobby Halton on April 5, 2014 at 12:01pm

OK Art it is official you are nuts! funny but nuts! 

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