Fire In The Incinerator!

A long time ago I spent some time aboard ship during my stint in the Navy. My job was to keep the electronics aboard the ship in good working order. As a consequence I spent a lot of time in the radio room.  At that time messages to the ships in a region were sent out in a broadcast format. That is each ship received all the messages being sent to all the ships and then sorted out the ones that were needed. The messages came in by HF radio and were printed on oiled yellow teletype paper. As a result there was a large quantity of excess paper generated that was stuffed into paper grocery sacks. This paper had to be disposed of in a secure manner. On our ship this was done by carrying the sacks all the way from the front of the ship to the stern where there was an incinerator located in a small room attached to one of the engine room exhaust stacks. One day sometime after the radioman responsible for burning the paper had left for the incinerator they got a call in the radio room from the radioman saying the incinerator room had caught fire. There was not enough room in the incinerator for all the sacks at one so he had left some of then in the room with the incinerator while he went somewhere else for a bit. When he came back all he could see looking into the small porthole in the door to the incinerator room was an orange glow. The chief in the radio room responded to the phone call by calling the bridge to report the fire. Shortly after that the general quarters alarm sounded and the announcement over the speaker system said “Fire Fire Fire in the incinerator”. Well, going to general quarters on a ship is a big deal. Everyone has to run to their assigned post and button up the ship. Whoever was in charge on the bridge, not wanting to make such a fuss for a small fire then announced over the speaker system, “Belay general quarters”. Meanwhile back at the incinerator room the radioman was waiting for the damage control party to come and put out the fire. No one had showed up. By that time the paint was beginning to burn off the outside of the room. The radioman calls back to the radio room to report that no one has come to put out the fire. The damage control party, hearing “fire in the incinerator” and  “belay general quarters” thought the whole thing was a joke or mistake so they did not report to the fire. The chief calls the bridge again to tell them there was no one putting out the fire. This time the announcement came, “Damage control party report to the incinerator”. That go the job done. After the fire was out we had to clean up the mess and figure out a way to dispose of a whole pile of soggy paper.

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One Response to Fire In The Incinerator!

  1. luckettg says:

    I spent four years in the fleet and six years in the Seabees. This story made perfect sense to me and I enjoyed reading it. A no shitter right?

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