There I was, trying my best to look as if I was enjoying a spot of gardening, all for the benefit of the onlooking Mrs C, when the station alarm sounded. I froze in anticipation, waiting to see if my pocket started to vibrate - my alerter going off, not me getting excited at the bells going down! But nothing. Ladder 1 left the fire station and headed into town.
Bugger! Looked like I'd have to keep up the pretence of enjoying doing the garden...
And then, barely two minutes later, just as I'd resumed the weeding position, the station alarm went again followed hot on its heels by my alerter.
What to do first? Wheeled Karen indoors at lightening speed, coat off, telly on and phone on her table. Change from my shorts into jeans, out the front door, pile all my gardening tools and the wheelbarrow under a bush and legged it across to the fire station.
Just one light up - Ladder 1's job was now Make Pumps 2 at Rushmere's DIY on Newcombe Road, Lowestoft near to the Birds Eye factory.
Even as we were piling onto Ladder 2 the bells went again for the ERT. It seems that Jim Parsons on Ladder 1 was putting in assistance message before even getting to the job and we could see why. As we turned out of the fire station towards town we could see a huge plume of smoke billowing into the sky. Th assistance message had been Make Pumps 4 so Clifton were on their way to. This would also mean that the Command Support Vehicle (used to be FCV) from Beccles plus their pump would also be mobilised too.
We pulled up just past Ladder 1 to hit the fire from the south side, having gained entry into the yard of the neighbouring business, Star Frost. Two 45's and a hosereel were run out in short order, stopping the fire spreading into an area were numerous cylinders were stored. Early and prompt action to remove two Acetylene cylinders from immediate danger meant that these potentially lethal 'bombs' were out of harms way.
One more assistance message went in - Make Pumps 6 - for personnel, bringing two pumps over the border from Norfolk.
With three hydrants being used we gradually won the battle of having sufficient water to fight the fire, which had totally destroyed the wood store that was attached to the rear of the DIY store.
Once our sector was closed we helped other crews to clear the burnt wood as damping down continued. Small seats of fire kept appearing as the heat held within the wood piles was not being reached by the hosereels. This meant the entire burnt and charred contents of the wood store had to be removed through the black morass that was the gloopy mixture of charcoal and water, and piled up in the yard.
Pumps from Wrentham and Southwold arrived as relief crews and we headed back to Normanshurst to get everything cleaned up.
Needless to say, the garden didn't get finished last night. Shame...