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by Christy Poff
Description: Shania Brooks has been a firefighter all her life and on both coasts. She runs with a small Napa Valley department and solely on her own, she rises in rank to captain. Despite the fact she has never used anyone's influence to attain her goals, there are those within the department who want to see her gone and women out of the fire service. William "Mac" McCabe is Blackwood Fire Department's third-in-command. His job is to investigate suspicious fires and on-duty accidents. During the course of an investigation into an equipment failure, he meets Shania. Sparks fly between them and they find a way to keep their personal relationship separate from their professional one. Will a hellfire ignite between them. or will the men who want to purify the department send them where a hellfire of their making could destroy them and the Fire Service?
eBook Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, 2006
eBookwise Release Date: June 2006
20 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [248 KB]
Reading time: 161-226 min.
Shania Brooks slid from the officer's seat of Snorkel One once they arrived on location at the Wilson Avenue address the department had been dispatched to. As she did, she made sure she secured her airpack on her back. After she adjusted her shoulder straps and waist belt, she checked her gauge to confirm she had a full tank of air.
"J.R., drop the outriggers and get the bucket ready." Shania keyed her radio. "Snorkel One to Command." She waited for a reply as she heard the heavy bang of the four supports for the aerial truck hit the ground behind her as J.R. stabilized it, ready for what Command would order her crew to do.
"Wilson Command, go ahead, Captain," Blackwood Fire Chief Mike Donovan came back.
"Snorkel One is in place. Your assignment?"
"Take a crew up and check the roof for possible extension from the top floor."
"Yes, sir." Shania turned back to her crew to relay the chief's orders. One firefighter stayed with J.R. to act as the ground man while the aerial device went into service. The rest of the crew joined Shania and went up to the roof in the bucket of the aerial truck J.R. and the other firefighter manned. Once on the roof, they checked for the extension Chief Donovan agonized over. When she and her crew found no extension or access from the roof, she ordered their return to the bucket. She lifted it from their position and smoothly swung it to another angle near the only window on their side of the building.
"Chief, we have no visible sign of extension on the roof. We are going into the window for an interior search."
"Okay, but be advised you have a crew on the floor below you."
She moved the bucket over to the window. Glass shattered as Mick Jordan took it out with a Halligan tool. She set her mask and got a good seal. The first lesson to wearing an SCBA, or self-contained breathing apparatus--get a good seal on the mask--without it, a firefighter could die. Again, she checked her gauge to make sure she had a full tank of air. She had a reputation for always being overly cautious when it came to the air supply of her and her crew. The air bottle was a firefighter's lifeline in adverse conditions, and Captain Shania Brooks refused to risk her life, or others.
Shania and her crew entered the building to the sound of cracking glass under their boots. She took her flashlight from her helmet and looked around as light smoke shared the room with them. She ordered Terry Drake and Mick Jordan to start a right-hand search, while she would remain in the small area close to the window, their reference point to the location of their exit and safety. From what she could see after they moved to the side, the door opening to the rest of the building's interior sat straight across the room from where they had just entered.
In front of her, Shania saw stacks of paper products and the like. To her left, she found seasonal items waiting their turn for the next holiday. She could be happier with the fire load if it caught here.
"Cap, it's clear to the door. The door is warm and we have smoke coming under it from the other side."
"Got anything else?"
"Stand by," Jordan called back to her as he stood to the side of the doorjamb. She could make out where he stood, a huge man who always made her feel short--and she stood five nine without heels.
"What do you have, Mick?" she called as he swung his axe to open a hole in the wall.
"Wall's hot. She's in the wall!"
A burst of flame met him as it fed on the air it craved desperately. Shania crossed the room to join him after she assigned a man to replace her at the window.
"Terry, you and Mick pull back. Snorkel One to command, we've got--" She had trouble breathing as her air supply dwindled.
"Captain Brooks..." Chief Donovan called over the radio. Shania pulled the mask off.
"Pull back and use the bucket line."
The crew vacated the room to the bucket, the tip of its nozzle aimed from the device into the fire room. The fire fought them but the actions of Shania's crew, plus the interior crew brought it under control in a short while.
Shania's crew came down and a relief team took over to salvage and overhaul the area where the fire had burned. They had the job of searching for hot spots. She heard the other aerial team's orders to open the roof from above. The department had made a quick stop with damage kept to one central area.
Once on the ground, J.R. Morris, the engineer for her shift, helped her to remove her pack.
"Cap, you all right?"
"No, I'm mad as hell!"
She flashed him a glare. He knew without being told that hell sat around the corner if someone crossed her.
"What happened? Your bottle run out?" someone asked.
"Was it..." he asked.
"Of course! You saw me check it. Not only that, the alarm didn't go off."
"What? I checked the batteries at shift change this morning."
"J.R., hey, calm down. I know how meticulous you are." He always checked out the truck he was assigned to when he came on shift, and today had been no exception. They checked the alarm and found the nine volt battery gone. Fear and anger rose in her at the same time.
"Cap, every one had batteries and the tanks were full. I swear."
"Take the pack out of service and don't let anyone touch it," she ordered.
"Wilson Command to Snorkel One."
"Snorkel One, go ahead, Chief."