I used to go on fire calls with Ed, my next door neighbor. Ed was a former high school and college football star and a volunteer fireman for Rock Community Fire Protection district in the small rural town outside of St. Louis where we both lived. Ed had about 6 pounds of scar tissue on his body from falling through burning floors. He was the smallest as well as the strongest one in the department so he was usually sent into the burning buildings first.
Ed also had some pretty wild stories to tell. One time they got a call for a house that was “fully involved,” fireman talk for a building that is all the way on fire. When Ed and the fire department got there, the party was still going on. Several people were on the front lawn in front of the burning house. They had rescued several pieces of furniture and the stereo and there was an extension cord running into the burning building. After all, just because your house is on fire is no reason to stop the party.
He also relates how another time a construction worker had come home and put his dirty clothes in the washer. Then he filled the washer up with gasoline and turned it on, thinking that the gas would get the grease out of his clothes. Instead, as soon as the motor sparked, it blew everything up, including the man’s house.
Then there were the sick calls: people throwing up and having heart attacks. Once there was a man named Jim. Ed, who was also a paramedic, accompanied the police on a domestic violence call. When they got there Jim was sitting at the kitchen table with his wife. She was holding a bloody towel over her face. When the police asked what had happened, Jim promptly got up and punched his wife in the face. “That’s what happened.” He said.
At one time Ed lived in California. He was involved with several wildfires out there. One almost burned down his house. One of the reasons that he moved back to Missouri was because of the fires. But now there’s a new building material called autoclaved aerated concrete, or ACC, that might make Ed’s job a little easier in the future. According to CNN, the material can withstand a 2,000 degree fire for four hours, enough to withstand one of California’s worst wildfires and easily a match for an ordinary house fire.
It seems to be the perfect building material. In addition to being fireproof, it’s also sound-deadening, termite proof, bullet proof and water proof. But it’s illegal in California, the state where it’s need most. Why? Because they haven’t determined whether it meets California’s strict earthquake standards.
If it’s approved, then maybe Ed won’t have to worry about his house burning down, but he’ll still have to worry about th Jim’s of the world.