Authors: Toye Lawson Brown
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
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First published by BooksbyToye 2013
Cover design copyright Lenny C. Middlebrook.
Copyright © 2013 Toye Lawson Brown
Published by: BooksbyToye
All rights reserved
I dedicate this book to the Cleveland Firefighter’s of Station 30. I want to thank them for taking the time to talk to me and sharing their knowledge of what it’s like to live the life of a fireman. They are true heroes’ and I thank God for them.
Other Titles Available
Nayla’s Dilemma-The Ends of Justice
Fighting The Desires
Law and Disorder: Partners Undercover
A Love Delayed
When The Music Stops
Let Me Serve You
Scenes To Steal The Heart
Scenes To Steal The Heart-Final Act
SMOKE & FIRE
A Firefighter’s Love Story
“Okay, Jonathan, take a deep breath, hold it for five seconds and exhale through your nose,” said Pam the x-ray technician.
Standing with his bare chest against the cold plastic waiting for the x-ray to be taken, Jonathan inhaled deeply. The pain radiating in his chest worsen the longer he held his breath. The severity of the smoke inhalation and the bruised muscles and broken ribs he suffered falling through the porch, were keeping him confined to the hospital longer than expected.
“We’re done,” Pam said coming from behind the protective shield. “The doctor will contact you once he’s read the x-rays. From what I saw of the images on the computer, your ribs seem to be healing nicely but your lungs have some healing to do yet.”
Jonathan’s deep cough rattled in his chest. Feeling weak he steadied his body by placing a hand on the wall. “Thanks, Pam. Is it okay for me to get dressed?”
“Certainly—do you need help?”
The offer caused him to blush a deep red. “No, I think I can handle dressing myself.”
She winked her eye. “I was not flirting.” She went back to her station saying,
“But when you’re done dressing, I’ll call the Orderly to take you back to your room.
Can I get you some water?”
“No, I’m good. What I want is to get out of this hospital and back to my life. I hate being confined with sick people and have doctors prod at me,” he said slipping a tight knot to secure his robe together.”
Pushing the wheelchair behind him, Pam motioned for him to sit and replaced the nose tube for his oxygen. “Unfortunately you classify as a sick person; inhaling all that smoke damaged your lungs. You’re very lucky to be alive, Mr. DeMinico.”
“Swallowing smoke is part of my job and I anxious to rejoin my unit.”
“I swear I don’t know how you do it. The job of a firefighter is hard and very dangerous. The young girl you saved is lucky you didn’t leave her behind. Do you know how she is doing?”
He shook his head. “I’d asked a floor nurse if she had been admitted to this hospital, but she couldn’t tell me anything since I didn’t know her name.”
“I’ll snoop around—maybe I can get a few answers for you. After all you deserve to know how she is doing; you risked your life saving her.”
He tried to smile. “Don’t get in trouble asking questions because of me.”
“No trouble at all. You’re all ready for your appointment with Respiratory Therapy. So you know, Millie is only working a half-day and Gabrielle King will be covering her patients the rest of the day.”
“I wouldn’t mind being left off Millie’s list today. She is brutal and I hate the drugs administered with those breathing tests.”
“You aren’t the only one that doesn’t like Millie, but she’s part of a team of great Respiratory and Pulmonary Specialists this hospital employs. You should be happy she is working with you. She’s your ticket out of here.”
He raised his brow. “I didn’t say that. I don’t know Millie well enough to not like her; but, she does not give a good first impression with the way she barks orders.”
Pam wheeled him into the waiting room and parked him facing the large
television mounted on the wall. “Maybe you will get lucky and get Gabrielle. She’s an excellent Respiratory and Pulmonary Specialist, but a little on the quiet side. She’s really a nice person once you break through her shell.”
“I’d whether deal with a quiet person who’ll go about doing her job whether than Millie the drill sergeant.”
Pam shook her head with a small laugh. “Well, you’re free of me for now. Take care, Jonathan.”
“Thanks again, Pam,” he said waving as she walked away.
He relaxed in the wheelchair removing the oxygen from his nose. He sniffed the air and got a faint scent of ammonia along with the lingering scent of soot that seemed to be permanently etched in his sinuses. The fire had not only damaged his lungs, but had temporarily caused him to lose the ability to taste and smell—both were returning slowly but the smell of the burning house would always exist in his memory.
The morning news playing on the television caught his attention. A blurb mentioning the two-alarm house fire his unit responded to was coming up. He leaned forward impatiently waiting for the commercials to be done. He wanted to see the piece before the Orderly arrived to take him back to his room.
He stomped his foot on the metal plate of the wheelchair in disgust. It seemed like a hundred commercials were going to show before the news returned. A stocky young man wearing dark green scrubs and carrying a clipboard walked quickly towards him.
“Mr. Jonathan DeMinico?” He asked before checking the white plastic
identification tag attached to his wrist.
The shortened breath that came from his baritone voice was raspy. “That would be me. Can you give me a second to catch this news segment?”
The young man shook his head in a negative response. “Sorry, but we are crazy busy today. I gotta get a patient to surgery after I drop you off.”
Propping his elbow on the arm rest of the wheelchair, Jonathan rested his head on his fingertips to massage his left temple. “Okay, let’s roll.”
The older nurse folded a blanket across the foot of the bed saying, “Let me help you into bed, Mr. DeMinico.”
“I can do it.”
“I know you can do it, but let me help anyway,” she said not taking any of his flack.
He didn’t respond but let the nurse do her job. She appeared to be close to retirement age and a tad on the frail side. How she expected to lift his 6 foot 4 inch, 185
pounds was puzzling him. He lifted himself from the wheelchair not letting any of his weight rest on her tiny frame.
“I can make it from here. I need to use the restroom while I’m up anyway.”
She sighed. “I will be back in a few minutes with your medications.”
“I’ll be here; not like I’m going anywhere soon.”
After using the restroom, he brushed his teeth and looked at his reflection in the mirror. The wound from the fall above his left eyebrow was long and required two butterfly Steri-strips to hold it together. His helmet and mask had fallen off during the fall leaving his head and face unprotected and exposed. The few minor cuts on his neck were peeling and blending in with his skin tone. The burns he sustained to his hands were second-degree burns and were bandaged to protect against infection.
His mind flashed back to the night of the fire. It was past midnight when Engine 30 and Ladder 30 got the job to respond to a triple two alarm fire on Cleveland’s eastside. They were the first responders to arrive on scene of the fully engulfed structure. Additional responding units could be heard blaring in the distance and soon were pulling up to assist.
The Battalion 6 Chief shouted at a group of men to move away from the two and a half story frame. They were attempting to douse the fire with garden hoses.
Lieutenant Murad went into command mode yelling for his men to bring in lines and setting the perimeters to get the fire under control before spreading to the houses on either side of it.
Firefighter Gordon grabbed the tip from Ladder 30, while Firefighter Otto hooked the hose to the Pumper to charge the lines. Firefighter Jenkins pulled a hose racing to the back of the house to work the fire with Jonathan.
Jonathan readying to attack the working blaze from the rear of the house overheard the hysterical cries of a woman. She was hysterically conveying to the Captain of Engine 26, that her daughter was trapped in a third floor bedroom.
Bursting into action before firefighters could charge the lines to fight the raging inferno from the back side of the house; Jonathan dropped his end of the hose and ran around to the side of the house kicking in a door. The heavy black smoke rolled upward into the night air giving an indication how intense the flames were inside.
With no hose to fight the flames inside, Jonathan began the search and rescue for the trapped child on the third-floor using his instinct and skill.
He located the room on the third floor. The door was locked when he turned the knob. Breaking the door open with his shoulder, he heard soft muffled cries. The child was crying and shaking underneath a bed. Hoping to ease the child’s fear with his presence, he knelt down and lifted his face mask saying, “Hi, I’m Jonathan. I’m going to get you out of here, but we have to hurry, OK?”
The frightened girl’s eyes were the size of saucers as tears pooled and ran down her face in big drops. She managed to nod her head taking his outstretched hand as he led her from her hiding place.
Removing his SCBA, he placed it on her face and instructed her to breathe normally. “We’ll need to share, so save some for me.”
Again she nodded but did not speak. “I gonna put my gloves on you to protect your hands and then cover you with a blanket; do you understand what I’m saying?”
Her eyes never left his giving him confirmation she understood. He remained calm knowing if she started to freak it would slow the rescue operation, possibly trapping them on the third floor with a limited air supply to share. “Good. I want you to do me one last favor and close your eyes. When you open them again, I promise you’ll be with your family.” Folding the blanket around her small body, he tucked her close to his body and moved quickly to get them to safety.
They made it to the second floor of the house before thick smoke began to affect him. Without his SCBA, he was in direct exposure with the smoke and other compounds burning inside the home. Coughing heavily, he felt his chest tightening but did not want to remove the oxygen from the child’s face. Exposing her to the toxins burning inside the home could be more harmful to her tender lungs, than his.
Barely able to see through the dense smoke, he pressed forward. Dodging flaming material falling from the ceiling in the living room, he was forced into a hallway that had two doors.
The Battalion Chief came over the fire ground channel instructing his crew to switch to Tac 6 to cut the surrounding radio traffic. He let Jonathan know help was inside and looking for him. Jonathan threw the high beam of the flashlight around the room shouting his name in case firefighters were closing in on his location.