Feeling Short on Things to Be Thankful For?

FirefighterOkay. Then sit there and be thankful for firefighters. Firepersons. Firemen and firewomen.

Today’s drama: instead of spending the afternoon reading real estate, I decided to spice up my life by trying to burn down the house.

Some days ago, M’hijito and I cooked up half a lifetime supply of chicken thighs for Cassie the Corgi by setting them over the lowest possible heat on the ’Cue. This causes a great deal of fat to render and drip down into the rendered-fat container beneath the metal thingies that emit smoke when hot grease drops on them, thereby faking real charcoal. And, as a bonus, whenever you cook chicken slowly over propane, you get gummy icky stuff sticking to the cast-iron grill grates. The stuff is not easy to scrub off said grates.

This can be dealt with in either of two ways:

a) the correct way (take the damn grill apart and CLEAN it!); or
b) the slacker’s way (turn the heat to “high” and let the damn grill self-clean).

Quite possibly the slacker’s way is not the desired way.

After tossing a little piece of defrosted steak on the grill by way of cooking up a large noon meal so’s I could have a light salad for dinner, I turned up the heat and closed the lid.

Bad move.

As Cassie and Charlie were begging food from the backyard table, as I was transporting about the sixth bite of food from the plate to my mouth and elbowing aside the adolescent golden retriever, I happened to smell a smell.

Smoke!

And we do mean smoke! Black, swirling clouds of smoke. Black. Smoke. Swirling.

The barbecue was on fire. And we do mean fire.

Flipped the burner handles to off, hollered at the dogs to follow me, and RAN through the house to the front door, grabbing the phone and hitting 9-1-1 on the fly.

“Get everyone outside the house,” said she. “Do not go back into the house!!!”

Man. Building that enclosed front courtyard was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done to this shack. The dogs were locked outside the house but still confined in a relatively safe place. I didn’t have to get back into the house to enter the garage, open the garage door, drive the Dog Chariot outside, and wrestle two excited animals into it. If I had to let them outside the gates, they could run off and still have a chance of coming back alive.

Fire-individuals (all male individuals, coincidentally) showed up forthwith.

A firefighter does not walk to the scene of a billowing propane fire. He runs. He runs while decked out with pounds of equipment and protective clothing that you and I probably couldn’t drag across the yard.

By the time the men got to the scene of the crime, the fire had more or less burnt itself out, thanks to my having shut off the burners. Barbecue was still hot enough to burn a man’s hand, but mercifully there was no danger of explosion and no danger of setting fire to north wall of the house. (How do we love block construction? Let us count the  poorly insulated ways). They turned off the propane tank (which I was afraid to touch) and pronounced the emergency over.

“Is the grill ruined?”

“We don’t think so.”

They suggested that I go so far as to, yes, clean it. Take it apart. Clean. It. Sounds extreme. But it could be well advised.

You know a firefighter?

Call him now. Tell him how much you love him.

Image: TSUGI, Japan (July 30, 2008) A Commander, Naval Forces Japan firefighter douses a fire on a dummy aircraft during the annual off-station mishap drill at Naval Support Facility Kamiseya. Emergency response and rescue teams were tasked with putting out a simulated fire, and rescuing two personnel from a plane crash scene. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Seaman Barry Riley (Released). Public domain.

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Ash April 13, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Thankfully you are all safe and sound and your house is ok too. I must say your life is never dull!!

Stephen April 14, 2012 at 8:16 am

I must say, you lead a very exciting life. You’re lucky all turned out fine.

Those men are brave. I would have been too afraid to touch that propane tank. I”m surprised it didn’t explode.

funny April 14, 2012 at 8:48 am

@ Ash & Stephen: Yes, there’s never a dull moment around the Funny Farm.

Propane is really scary stuff. I’m normally very careful with the BBQ. Didn’t realize so much grease had accumulated under there. There was a lot of chicken grease in its little grease collector pan thingie, but mercifully, that did not ignite. There’s an enameled pan installed on a slight incline beneath the burners, whose design is meant to channel dripping grease into the collector pan. Must have been a lot of grease on that: after the unit cooled off and I took the thing apart, I found chunks of carbonized stuff all over the drip pan, like small pieces of charcoal. Somehow it must have collected a lot of grease that fell down onto the enameled drip pan thingie and caught fire. It’s a lot further away from the propane tank than the grease collector pan. If that one caught fire, there’s a good chance the heat would melt the rubber tubing and create a really serious emergency.

Really, it would be much preferable to design a BBQ so the propane tank could be outside the unit, not directly under the burners. That would not only seem to be safer, it sure would make it easier to connect and disconnect the tank and to turn it on and off.

Evan April 16, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Never dull by you huh? My older brother is FDNY. He was the second class admitted after 9/11. I am glad someone does the job, but it is one of those things when you ask, “does it have to be him?”

Ken April 30, 2012 at 9:42 am

This link was forwarded to me and it made me smile and laugh. I’ve been part of two volunteer departments for about 7 years and considering going full time. I appreciate your thanks to firefighters everywhere. We will keep doing what we do to help protect your lives and property.

funny April 30, 2012 at 10:51 am

Thanks, Ken. Most citizens appreciate firefighters, too!

Hope you enjoy Funny about Money and will come back often. :-)

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