Our anonymous blogger reflects on one of the few times he’s had reason to proudly proclaim his profession to a stranger
The Engineer is the pre-eminent publication for our profession. Therefore, unsurprisingly, I regularly make my way through the various articles online. One of the pieces that recently caught my eye was about the way engineers are portrayed within popular culture, the responses of the readership being as interesting as the original text. It brought to mind one of the few times that I had reason to proudly proclaim my profession to a stranger.
Returning from holidaying in Devon my wife and I decided to take in the scenic splendour of East Prawle and, after a pleasant wander amongst the verdant fields and sun dappled hedgerows, we settled at the Pig’s Nose Inn for lunch. Soon after our food arrived the electricity failed and then we were asked to leave due to the small matter of a fire having broken out. Naturally we took our beer and sandwiches with us onto the green but by the time we had finished them there was still no sign of the Fire Brigade.
The family who owned the pub didn’t seem technically minded – or actually doing anything – so I wandered over to where the smoke was starting to billow out and got chatting to another holiday maker. He turned out to be a senior technical bod at one of the red brick universities. We decided to step in and soon located the somewhat vintage exposed fuse board that was merrily ablaze; unfortunately it was high up over a large fridge and next to a small open window that we couldn’t get to.
Having explained that the water the chef had thrown over it wasn’t the best of ideas we got as many CO2 extinguishers together as we could and told the family to wait outside. My new found colleague then switched the mains feed off using a wooden broom handle and between us we contained the fire, one stood back and directing whilst the other reached over the top of the fridge to blast it with the extinguisher. Unfortunately due to the window we couldn’t get it completely out.
At one point I got the young lad of the family to take me through the building (to a couple of additional fuse boards) in order to completely isolate it, thinking this might help if copious amounts of water was required once Fireman Sam finally showed up. I returned to the fire and soon after that we ran out of extinguishers. Having agreed it was time to get the Hell out, we made sure the building was clear and then left it to burn. Thankfully the fire engine turned up a couple of minutes later and the pub was saved.
It was whilst isolating the building that the lad had said to me “Are you a fireman or something?” Taking full advantage of the situation (and not being able to resist) I looked him squarely in the eye and after a moment’s pause replied “No son, I’m an engineer.”