Firefighters are called on to put out what’s burning, but local crews say they’re often dealing with a lot of other unusual calls you may not often hear about.
From swift water arroyo rescues to playground swing set extractions, the Bernalillo County Fire Department says it’s been a busy summer for the department’s fire crews across the metro.
“You get into this job because you truly desire to help people,” said Lt. David Lujan of the Bernalillo County Fire Department.
Lujan says one of the most unexpected calls came last week from the Los Vecinos Community Center in the East Mountains near Tijeras.
Firefighter paramedic crews were called out to playground at the community center after a woman got her legs stuck in a toddler swing seat. Firefighters say the woman’s legs were too short to reach the ground, but too stuck to be removed from the swing set.
“We used just basic bolt cutters to get her out,” said Lujan, who also says the woman was uninjured.
“Whatever the situation is, we’re going to try to figure it out,” said Lujan.
The swing set story is just the tip of the iceberg for BCFD though. The department says its crews have a lot of stories about rescues and other random acts of helping.
One of the most memorable was a recent rescue of hikers in the East Mountains near the Tunnel Canyon Trailhead. A photo shows BCFD rescue crews carried a dog out on their backs.
“The dog was just completely exhausted and couldn’t and didn’t want to walk anymore,” said Lujan. “And you can see picture, that dog is just as happy as a clam.”
Another dog rescue this summer had a fire captain scooping up two runaway Pugs from a busy street.
“There was an elderly lady who was getting ready to run into traffic,” said Lujan.
The dogs weren’t hurt in the rescue, Lujan says.
Another recent call ended up becoming a teachable moment instead of a crackdown. Fire crews helped put out an off-season, illegal weed burn in a person’s front yard when they noticed a kid watching intently.
“This young boy was very intrigued at what was going on,” said Lujan.
Crews ended up letting the boy help extinguish the fire and capturing it on video.
“The crew took an opportunity to kind of educate him on you know, what the potential hazards are,” said Lujan. “You want to be the one that’s putting out fires rather than starting it.”
In June, fire crews ended up helping at senior center in the North Valley after responding to a smoke alarm call.
Once the call was clear, firefighters helped wheel the elderly evacuees back inside, while dressed in full gear.
“It’s our responsibility to take care of them even after the fact,” said Lujan.
While some calls are random, Lujan says they’re glad to help.
“That’s what we do on an everyday basis,” said Lujan.
BCFD says it responds to about 20,000 calls for service each year.