MIAMI SHORES (CBS4) – The men and women of Miami Fire Station No. 9 descended on a blaze at a business in a warehouse Thursday morning and encountered potentially deadly stuff.
“There were hazardous materials, items that could actually blow up,” said Lt. Ignatius Carroll.
Carroll was talking about tanks of oxygen and acetylene and gasoline stored in the landscaping business, precariously close to the flames from the fire that started in the northeast corner of the building.
Speaking of precarious, there was a large truck jacked up in the building on makeshift supports with only one big tire attached. The fire could have caused the tire to explode.
“If that tired popped, the whole truck could have fallen on my crew and crushed four of my people,” said Capt. Thomas Parks, whose squad was the first to arrive and enter the burning structure on Northwest 72 Street near Miami Avenue.
The morning fire in Miami served to illustrate that there is no such thing as a routine call for firefighters, a reality tragically underscored in Chicago Wednesday when two first responders were killed, and more than a dozen injured, when a roof collapsed as they fought a building fire.
Miami firefighters grieved for their Chicago colleagues.
“We all feel their loss and their pain,” said Parks.
“We lost brother firefighters, and we feel it here,” said Carroll. “It shows the dangers that we deal with in this profession.”
The Miami firefighters were not surprised that those killed in Chicago Wednesday had entered the building knowing that it was vacant, but believing there could be squatters inside who had sought shelter from the cold.
“They’re going to go in and do everything that they can to make sure nobody is inside,” said Miami Fire-Rescue’s William Bryson.
“Absolutely,” added Firefighter Chris Rousseau. “It doesn’t matter if it’s you or me or a homeless person. You have to go in there and find out if anyone is there.”
Bryson said that he and his fellow firefighters roll on every call “as if it could be one of my family members.”
Congress on Wednesday passed a 9/11 health care bill to aid firefighters, police officers and others injured or left ill by the terrorist attack on America in September of 2001. It was the worst disaster for first responders in U.S. history.
But the tragedy in Chicago Wednesday and warehouse fire in Miami Thursday reminded firefighters – and those they serve – that any call could their last.
Capt. Parks, married with children, said, “I make it a point to give my family a hug and a kiss every time before I go work.”