Friday, October 06, 2006

Fire in the hole: A true story

This started out in the comments over at Sam's, but it was obviously far too long. Here it is in full; just one of the many stories I have about my ex-father-in-law.

My ex-father-in-law is an incredible specimen of a human being, by which I mean he should be put in a specimen jar, pickled, and stored in a museum somewhere, far, far away from me and mine.

Although retired now, he was a fireman for many years. Now, some of you may think that this would be a wondrous thing, having a fireman in the family, but this was a fireman who managed to set his own kitchen on fire.

My ex-father-in-law (let's call him "Dumbfuck") prided himself on being an excellent cook. He was not half bad, and did in fact do most of the cooking for the family, and a good portion of the cooking at the fire station, when he was on duty. I think he would have been a far better cook if he didn't pick his nose and wipe the boogers on his pants, or even washed his hands occasionally, but then again I'm somewhat of a particular person, as I was reminded by my ex-in-laws to no end.

One time, when Dumbfuck was cooking dinner at home, he started a grease fire in a frying pan on the stove (a gas range, not an electric cooker) in his kitchen. You would assume that Dumbfuck, as a fireman, would know how to handle this. You would be wrong.

When the smoke started pouring out of the frying pan, it occurred to him that maybe smoke was not a good thing, so he turned on the exhaust fan above the stove. Next, flames came shooting out of the pan, so he turned the exhaust fan on higher.

Surprisingly, at least to Dumbfuck, this did not put out the fire, so he then grabbed the pan's handle, without using a pot holder or oven mitt, thereby burning his hand in the process, and made his way with the flaming grease pan to the sink. Once there, he proceeded to run cold water at full blast on the flaming pan. The grease in the pan, not taking too kindly to this, and possibly remembering that maxim about "Out of the frying pan and into the fire," wisely decided to get the fuck out of there, and sloshed over to the kitchen window curtains, which immediately burst into flames.

Dumbfuck the Fireman was still holding the flaming pan, which the skin on his hand had burnt to, and he decided that blowing on the fire just might be a good idea. The fire did not like his plan, and promptly burnt off his eyebrows, which were most prodigiously bushy and long. Fire, as we all know, generally tends to travel up, and the front of his hair joined in the fray. Luckily for Dumbfuck, his eyebrows and hair were only melted and singed, as he was a real man, and not some metrosexual that uses hair products. If he was a metrosexual, he would have been well fucked.

Now, at this point in the story, Dumbfuck has had his facial hair melted, has set the kitchen curtains on fire, has turned the exhaust fan on "high," and is still holding the flaming pan.

While ignoring the fire quickly engulfing the kitchen curtains, he notices a small fire on the stove. What he does not realize is that this is not an accidental fire, but the gas burner he has failed to turn off. He sets the pan, still flaming, down on the counter, and proceeds to beat at the "fire" on the stove with several kitchen towels. Needless to say, the kitchen towels caught on fire. Realizing this, as soon as one catches on fire, he flings the burning towel behind him, and continues to beat at the "fire" on the stove with a fresh towel.

That last towel really ignites, and sends sparks up to the exhaust fan, which is still running on "high." The exhaust fan's motor and plastic fan blade melt, and proceed to make a whiny, high-pitched noise, adding to the general chaos in the kitchen. You may wonder why there was not another whiny, high-pitched noise in the kitchen; namely, the smoke alarm. Dumbfuck the Fireman had removed the batteries to the smoke alarms in the house, as they generally went off while he was cooking.

The burning towels which Dumbfuck had thrown behind him had fortuitously fallen on the tiled floor, and while burning themselves to a crisp, at least did not set anything else on fire. Likewise, the flaming curtains had melted to the plaster wall, and simply burnt themselves out. The flaming pan, which was set on the kitchen counter, was, however, still going at a good clip. The heat from the pan melted the Formica counter, and proceeded to burn a partial hole through the counter. This tilted the pan, so that the flaming grease fell out of the pan, through the hole in the Formica counter, and into the contents of the cabinet below the counter. What were those contents? Towels and cookbooks, which of course are flammable.

Dumbfuck the Fireman has finally realized that this fire may after all have gotten the best of him. But, with a sudden burst of inspiration, he has remembered that his wife keeps a fire extinguisher in the broom closet, which is in the kitchen. Sadly for Dumbfuck, he cannot remember how to use the fire extinguisher. Is he supposed to shake it before use? He knows there is a pin involved. Is he supposed to pull the pin and throw it? The flames from the cabinet will quickly be reaching the ceiling, so the matter has become urgent. His memory returns, and he pulls the pin, aims the fire extinguisher, and pulls the trigger. The fire extinguisher is old, and has lost its charge, but fortunately for Dumbfuck it still has enough ooomph to get the job done. The fire in the cabinet is out, and the flaming grease fire in the pan, along with it.

Now, after any type of fire, it is wise to call the fire department out, to make sure that the fire was actually contained, and will not re-spark later, and spread. Dumbfuck the Fireman remembers this much from his training, at least, so he promptly calls the fire station.

The fire station just happens to be the one he works at.

The Chief just happens to be on duty today.

The Chief and crew arrive to find that the yes, there still is a fire going. It's the "fire" on the stove burner, the one that Dumbfuck forgot to turn off. They kindly turn it off for him, and douse everything in sight with water. This is an esteemed colleague, after all. They wouldn't want his house to burn down. Better safe than sorry, you know. They go all through the kitchen, and are particularly concerned about the attic, as Dumbfuck had left the exhaust fan on while the fire was raging. The Chief sends a crew member up through the attic for inspection. Luckily, once again, for Dumbfuck, the attic had sustained no damage.

After the Chief had ascertained that everything was under control, he was required to take a report of how this all started, and the chain of events. Dumbfuck obligingly told him.

As the Chief and Dumbfuck are concluding, Mrs. Dumbfuck arrives home to find fire, flood, and famine (as the dinner was burnt). Mrs. Dumbfuck let Dumbfuck have it, with both barrels, in front of all his fire station associates. Mrs. Dumbfuck wears the pants in the family, so Dumbfuck takes it like the bitch he is. The brunt of the questioning from Mrs. Dumbfuck is along the lines of "Why in the fuck did you not just cover the pan with the lid?!"

Sure enough, upon closer inspection of the ruined stove, there was the lid to the pan. Dumbfuck had not needed it for his cooking, but he had got it out, just in case, because it's good to be prepared. As we all know (well, everyone except for Dumbfuck, apparently), the easiest way to put out a grease fire in a pan is to smother it, thereby depriving it of fuel.

One of the fireman, a kindly sort, reached in to his bag and came out with a fridge magnet, which he presented to Dumbfuck. The magnet was shaped like a pan, with flames coming out of it, and a hand was reaching over it, covering it with a lid. The caption read "Put the lid on grease fires!" The magnets were part of a new promotion that their fire department had been putting on. Dumbfuck had been handing out those self-same magnets for weeks now.

As far as I know, Dumbfuck still has that magnet on his fridge.

Mrs. Dumbfuck filed an insurance claim, and got a brand-new kitchen, a full remodel.

Dumbfuck the Fireman retired a few years back from the fire department. He still does the household cooking.

Fat Sparrow


Philip said...

Microwaves are so much healthier.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant. He must be one of those lazy bastards who refuses to do an ounce of work once they've clocked off.

"Fire? Oh, shit, fire! Wait, I know the procedure for managing this...nah, in fact, fuck that, I finished work at 5 o'clock. Let's see what happens if I try...this.....aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh"

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

I'm sure it was wrong of me to have laughed all the way through that top-notch retelling of Dumbfuck's misfortunes, Sparra'. I have sore sides. What an arrant plonker! Loved it!

Clairwil said...


Can ask what inspired you to call him Dumbfuck?

Fat Sparrow said...

Philip -- Don't get me started on the microwave stories having to do with Dumbfuck. Wait, maybe I should. There's a whole vein here just waiting to be mined.

Kav -- "Brilliant. He must be one of those lazy bastards who refuses to do an ounce of work once they've clocked off."

Sadly enough, he's fairly diligent, just dumb.

Sam -- Why, thank you! Here's me come across all blushy. I am glad to know that as a writer, I do not suck.

Clairwil -- Glad you liked it!

"Dumbfuck" was one of the more polite names I had come up with, hahaha.

Dr Maroon said...

Well I think you were a little harsh.
Who among us, hasn't at one time or another, burnt down their kitchen with the chip-pan?

Tell you what though, the last post about weed, I never knew what 'shake' was till now. I must say I feel rather superior now.

Fat Sparrow said...

"Who among us, hasn't at one time or another, burnt down their kitchen with the chip-pan?"

:::raises hand:::

"Tell you what though, the last post about weed, I never knew what 'shake' was till now. I must say I feel rather superior now."

You know, when I was writing that, I really did assume that everyone else knew all this stuff. So apparently, according to the husband, I just look like a massive druggie now.

Ah well.

And I don't know if 'shake' is called 'shake', over there in the UK or Europe. It may be called something else. We'd have to get Brewski to weigh in on that one. He would definitely put you straight on what an amateur I am.

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

In the midwest a shake is called a "malt". Smokin' on the malt, man.

PI said...

Well no-one's perfect!

G said...

Came here from First Nations and have spent the last few minutes laughing as I read. That's one dumbfuck and this is one good story, excellently told.

Now let me go put those batteries back in the smoke detector.

Fat Sparrow said...

Thanks! Glad you liked it!

You know, one of these days I should probably put batteries in my smoke detector, too, now that you mention it....

Chaucer's Bitch said...

sweet mercy. came here via First Nations.

the bit about the magnets had me in stitches. did his chief and colleagues taunt him mercilessly when they arrived?

crap like this is why insurance premiums are so fucking high. damn dumbfucks.

Fat Sparrow said...

Not only then, but for years afterwards. They all hang out together, with their families, when they're off work, so the story got brought up often. They'd knock back a few and start in: "Hey, remember the time you set your kitchen on fire?" and then laugh their asses off.

And yes, that is exactly why insurance premiums are so high. This is a man that deep-fries turkeys every year for Thanksgiving. Be afraid, be very afraid.