That's me, stretching in the first line and thinking, "Hey, I'm on the command staff -- what the heck am I doing on the nozzle?"
That fellow in the civilian clothes is Phil Jacob, who's been on the department 35 years and works a block from the fire scene, as a custodian at the Noble County Courthouse. To give you an idea of how he still feels about firefighting, I had to wrestle the first nozzle away from him because his protective clothing was still on the way from the station. There I am headed away, while he grabs the NEXT nozzle! The red helmets belong to our captains, and this one is Chad Jacob, Phil's son.
The Assistant Chief and I are scoping out the situation, which is a nice way of saying we're thinking "Oh, crap!" The problem is that the second in crew hasn't made the hydrant yet, and we're almost out of our 1,000 gallons of on-board water. That's why Jeff has shut down his nozzle, for the moment.
On the other side of the house, also using our 1,000 gallons of on-board water, a second crew is protecting the other exposure.
Why are the guys hiding behind a tree? Because ammunition inside the living room, which is directly in front of them, just started cooking off. One guy got a shell to the side of his neck, but suffered only a slight bruise.
Once we start knocking the fire down, we always get very heavy, toxic smoke and zero visibility. Imagine if we'd managed to get inside to do a primary search and fire knockdown, and you get an idea of why thermal imaging cameras that can see through smoke have become so popular -- and expensive.
While we tried to protect the neighboring homes on either side and waited for more water, the rear burned freely. Notice the electric meter to the left, where a line burned through and fell to the ground. In the center you can see the gas grill. Moments after this picture was taken we got a line into place at the back, just as the grill's propane tank started venting burning fuel. The nozzleman had to put his water on the tank until I could remove it. I didn't volunteer for the job; I was just there.