GUTHRIE, Okla. – When an emergency call about a vehicle engulfed in flames came into the Guthrie Fire Department, there was only one person at the station, and she didn’t hesitate to do her job.
Battalion Chief Erin Jones said it’s not uncommon – in fact, on Saturday during her shift, 15 fire or EMS calls came in. The first responders were stretched thin, and when the call for the car on fire came in, she was alone.
“I’d already had to call back in overtime people to come in,” Jones said, “but everybody was gone except myself.”
The next move was a no-brainer. She called dispatch to request backup, but left, prepared to go it alone.
“I hopped in an engine and headed out that way,” Jones said.
Driving the engine, readying the lines, and tackling a fire is not an easy feat for one person. The 26-year veteran has a lot of experience under her belt, but as a battalion chief, she’s not in that position often these days.
“I hadn’t been in it in a while so it’s a little different when you’re not in it everyday like the the guys are,” she said.
Fortunately, it turned out she wasn’t alone after all. A Cashion Fire Department lieutenant was on his way back from training, who happened to have his gear, beat her to the call on Hwy 33 and Post, where the driver was still in the burning car.
“He came across this fire and noticed the guy sitting in there, and I don’t think the guy realized his car was on fire,” Jones said.
After getting him safely out, Jones arrived, and they set to work together.
“The whole vehicle was on fire when I got there, it was fully involved,” she said. “The tires were left, that’s about it.”
The two quickly got the fire extinguished and everyone escaped safely. It wasn’t long before the Sooner Fire Department arrived and helped clean up. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Jones said in Guthrie, which has a smaller department than metro areas like Oklahoma City, resources can be strapped and there are situations where only one, two, or three people are available to rush to a scene. That’s where quick action, good training, and of course, help from other stations are necessary.
“In my mind this was not anything at all,” she said. “It was just another day that happens here at the Guthrie Fire Department.”