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Family through FIre

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“Swan! It’s your turn to make lunch.”

Emma groaned, she hated cooking duty, the one thing she truly hated about her job. “Come on L.T. you know I hate to cook. Besides I don’t think, scratch that, I know none of you like my cooking.” She shot back.

“True as it may be Swan, it’s only fair. How do you expect to settle down if you never learn to make a decent meal.” Her lieutenant teased nudging her shoulder. The guys always teased her lack of commitment. Her longest relationship was a week, maybe two at the most. She’d learned early on in life not to get attached, because people she loved and were supposed to love her back always left. She had everything she was looking for in life in her team, she didn’t need a woman by her side to make her feel whole.

“Did I hear you right mate, Swan settle down. Swan settling down is as likely as her learning to cook, or I believe the expression is when pigs fly. Heart breaker this one, I thought I had a way with the ladies.” Killian Jones, one of Emma’s coworkers winked at her giving her his most charming smile. Their relationship had started out rocky, he’d tried really hard at first, he’d been one of those men that thought they could get any woman they set their sights on, it had been a hard pill to swallow when he’d figured out he couldn’t get Swan to “switch teams”.

“Shut it Jones.” Emma snapped moving into the kitchen area. It had been a quiet day and now more than ever she wished for a call, even a bullshit call would be okay. Anything to get her out of cooking duty and get her through to six o’clock when her shift would end. Normally her shift wouldn’t end until the next morning but seeing that it was her birthday her lieutenant had told her to leave early, it was something he tried to do with all his firefighters when staffing and call volume permitted. “I hope you like grilled cheese sandwiches. Again.” She laughed at the unanimous groan from the rest of the crew. As much teasing and crap they gave her about her cooking annoyed her, she wouldn’t have it any other way. The group was the only family she knew. They were a brotherhood, not related by blood but by fire. Joining the department close to a decade ago had been the greatest decision she had made for herself. She’d found something none of her foster homes had been able to give her. A family.

She laughed as the Nolan brothers, James and David fought over the remote, if not for the scar on David’s chin and James’ more flirtatious personality, it was impossible to tell the two apart. Killian Jones sat back his legs kicked up on the coffee table looking through a magazine, knowing his taste, the women inside said magazine would be poorly dressed. Neal Cassidy sat beside Killian commenting on the attractiveness of the women, this was his time to look without getting in trouble with his wife of three years, Tamara. Ruby Lucas sat with a grin on her face adding her smart ass remarks every so often. Her Lieutenant, August Booth who often took the fatherly role in their little group, just watched on in amusement.  

Emma sighed in content, she loved her family, as dysfunctional and untraditional as it was. It had taken her 28 years to finally have one and she was thankful for them. Tones dropped just as she’d placed all the ingredients for tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches on the countertop. The relief she felt at not having to cook quickly disappeared after the fifth tone. ‘Wonderful.’ She thought. ‘I just had to jinx us.’ She quickly put everything away as two more tones dropped and ran toward the bay that housed their gear and apparatus’.

“Swan. I want you to ride the ambulance with Lucas. You have the most experience with medical but be prepared to go in when we get there.” Emma nodded to her lieutenant loading her gear in the ambulance. She had been covering the ambulance while Belle Gold was on vacation, her husband Rumple had surprised her for their two year anniversary. Belle was the mother figure her crew often looked to for advice. Emma didn’t mind riding the ambulance as long as she got to play when the good calls came in.

“Sounds pretty bad.” Her partner commented as they followed the Engine out of the firehouse. Emma nodded her mind already on what they were about to face.

“Is it just me or do our calls seem to be getting worse, who blows up a Women’s Clinic in the middle of the afternoon.” Ruby had not been doing this job as long as Emma, it still amazed her the extent people would go to hurt each other. Both Emma and Ruby were familiar with the Women’s Clinic, it offered affordable healthcare to women and children and assisted women in starting over. They provided alcohol, drug and abuse support groups, healthcare and nutrition knowledge to mothers to be. The two had taken several battered women there instead of the hospital.  The clinic had staff available 24 hours a day, a counselor and family advocate on standby at all hours.

Emma agreed. “Let’s just hope we don’t have too many victims.” That was part of the job she hated most. The people they couldn’t save. She’d learned early on that not everyone could be saved, there would come a time where casualties occurred and there was nothing that could be done to change the outcome. As best as she could, she detached herself from those calls, but they still managed to haunt her for weeks, sometimes even months. Calls involving children were always the worst. There weren’t many firefighters that could honestly say child calls didn’t get to them.

Ruby turned west still a few blocks away from the scene, they both saw a large column of dark smoke. Immediately they heard their Lieutenant’s voice come across the radio.

“Lt 3 dispatch, I have heavy dark column of smoke, upgrade to a second alarm, I also want additional 3 additional ambulances added.“ The ambulance crew listened as their Lieutenant asked for additional units, he was never one to waste time, he was known to be cautious, he would rather have too many units and place them in service than need more and not have them available to him. “Engine 3 to dispatch.”

Ruby parked the ambulance out of the way of the fire trucks. Emma finished dressing in her bunker gear, donning her SCBA pack listening to the Lieutenant’s on scene report.

“On scene of a medium sized 3 story commercial structure. I have smoke coming from sides bravo and charlie. I need the next due engine to go to the charlie side and give me a size up, third due truck hit the hydrant at the corner of Harrison and Massachusetts with a forward lay and supply Engine 3 on the alpha side. We’ll be on an offensive attack, I will be establishing clinic command on the alpha side until the command vehicle arrives.”

Emma regrouped with her crew at the front of the building, often referred to as the alpha side. She grabbed a new york hook and prepared to follow her team inside.

“Swan.” She paused several feet from the door. “I want you to join 5’s crew, they’re short one today, I want a primary search done on the first floor, I’ve been told everyone got out on the first floor but just make sure,  then proceed to search the fire floor, 7’s crew will assist when they come in.” Emma nodded in understanding, the first floor held the clinical offices, where patients were brought and seen, the second floor held most of the administrative offices, and the third floor she’d never been to because they kept that secure. Emma stepped back and watched as Jones and David took one hand line in and James and Cassidy took a second hand line. Once 5’s crew arrived Emma donned her face piece and entered the smoke filled structure. She was thankful she could somewhat make out the outlines of desks, beds and doors, it made the search slightly easier. With the first floor search completed they notified command that they were proceeding to the second floor. “Command is copies, ground floor primary search complete, moving to the second, be advised we have confirmed victims trapped on the second floor.”

Emma and her partner conducted a right hand search while the other two members from 5 started on the left side of the room.  Everything in the fire world was done in twos, two in two out, you never did anything without a partner, someone always had your six. A right handed search is done with the firefighter begins at the right side of the door keeping in touch with the wall by a tool or a body part such as their arm or leg as they progressed through the room. Emma swept her 6 foot new york hook across the floor as she and her partner crawled keeping contact with the wall at all times.  Emma checked her Heads Up Display (HUD) every so often making sure she was good on her air supply. It was in calls like this she was glad she was in top shape. Controlling her breathing helped her draw out the duration of her air, making it last longer. 

“I got something.” Her partner called to her. An unconscious male lay with a desk on top of his legs.  With her partners help they removed the desk and radiod into command. Emma left her tool to mark their place. The two dragged the male to the top of the stairs where a crew from 7 took him. They crawled back to Emma’s tool and continued their search. They found another male, barely conscious. They assisted him to the top of the stairs, 7’s crew continued the search while Emma and her partner took the victim to get checked out by medical. Replacing their air cylinders the two returned inside as 7 and the other crew from 5 emerged with 3 people. As they continued the search, the visibility worsened as water was being put on the fire. With the rest of the floor searched confirming they had no more victims the two crews existed to refill their air bottles.

Since there was only one floor left the crews from 7 took over for the firefighters on the nozzle. Crews from six were arriving on scene and would assist in the search momentarily. Emma and the firefighter from station 5 continued to the third floor. The third floor had one long hallway with three door on each side and two at the end of the hallway. Again Emma and her partner started on the right while the other team started on the left. Reaching the first door Emma crawled inside, her partner notified her that she’d be searching the next room. The room wasn’t very large. It had a bunkbed and a single twin size bed. She searched the top and bottom bunks, making sure to check under the bed, she found no one. Emma continued her search, finding the second bed empty she reached the closet. Finding that also empty she continued to the door, checking to make sure there was no one behind it.  Most often when victims were found they were located behind doorways, children hid under their beds or in the closets. It had been ingrained in her to check those areas thoroughly. Emma met up with her partner outside the second room. Together they moved to the next room. Emma’s partner motioned that she was going in while Emma searched the office to the right. The second crew had reached the same point of their search on the left side of the hallway. 

Emma entered a room finding one female. Freeing her from the debris she radiod her partner. Her partner notified her that she also had one victim. “Lets grab them both.” Her partner moved her own victim to the door.

Emma moved to her victim. Thankful she was conscious, that would make getting her out easier.

“My son, I have to get my son.” Emma’s victim was frantic.

“Is he here,” Emma asked hoping to god the answer was no.

“No, but I have to get to him, please.” Her victim coughed, smoke filling her lungs.

“What’s your name.” Emma had learned long ago that having someone’s name and using it was the quickest way to draw someone out of panic or hysteria.

“Regina. Regina Mills.”

“Ok Regina, can you crawl,” She asked.

The woman shook her head no, holding up her arm. Emma needed to hurry the smoke in the office was getting worse. Thinking fast she unclasped the top D-ring of her coat and opened it up.  She sat up resting on the heels of her feet. “Okay Regina, I want you to wrap your legs around me, with your good hand I want you to hold on to my neck, keep your face tucked inside my coat.” Emma spoke as loudly and as clearly as she could through her face piece, the voice amplifying device helping her come across better.

Regina nodded, moving towards Emma and doing as instructed. Regina tucked her head into the firefighter’s coat, her entire body screamed in pain. She held on tight as the blond got on all fours and began crawling towards the door, once there she followed her partner out of the building. At the top of the stairs she stopped and picked up the brunette, carrying her rest of the way outside. Regina kept her head tucked into Emma’s coat trying to avoid as much smoke as possible. Her throat and lungs burned from the smoke she’d already inhaled.