Flame Jockeys

Episode 2

Open on Mac's apartment. There are clothes strewn all over the floor. Some articles are hanging from furniture. The bed linens are haphazardly hung on the bed. Mac lies motionless in the middle of the bed. An open case file lies next to him. Official fire department documents are scattered across the bed.

Mac pushes some of the papers aside, and rolls over. He stares at the alarm clock, which reads 4:30am. He sighs heavily, sits up, and flips the file shut. The cover of the file reads "official investigation."

CUT TO:

Merrill and Dennis are outside the firehouse with the ladder truck. They are washing it. They are using the fire department hoses. Their shift has just come on. Not everyone has arrived.

Amy appears around the side of the truck. She gives them a concerned look.

Amy

You know that you really aren't supposed to be using those hoses to wash the truck, right?

Merrill looks up from the hoses and Dennis, in doing so, he lets go of the hose causing Dennis to loose control. Merrill walks over toward Amy. In the background, the hose whips around while Dennis chases after it. Merrill is completely oblivious to this. Amy is looking over Merrill's shoulder at Dennis.

Merrill

You know what? You're right… (He partially looks over his shoulder). Hey, Dennis! Do you think that you can take care of the hoses? I'm gonna walk Amy inside.

Dennis finally gets the hose wrangled by lying on top of it. He looks up at Merrill dumbfounded.

Dennis

(Exhausted, and soaking wet). Sure.

CUT TO:

Inside the house.

Amy stops just inside the main garage at a little office filled with city/fire department radio equipment, known as the watch box.

Amy

(She turns to Merrill). Well, this is my stop… Mac assigned me to the box the first 2 hours of shift.

Merrill

(Nods, seeming disappointed). Oh…

Bob enters through the sliding garage door for the truck. Amy politely waves to him, gives Merrill a little smile, and exits into the watch box. Bob drops his bag at Merrill's feet. He looks very seriously, yet perplexed, at Merrill. He jerks a thumb toward the ladder truck parked just outside the garage.

Bob

Truck looks nice.

Merrill

(Subtly smiles). Yeah, thanks man.

Bob

But I do have one question.

Merrill

What's that?

Bob

What in the hell happened to Dennis?!

Merrill

(Looks over Bob's shoulder at Dennis, who is still soaking wet. Merrill shrugs). Beats the hell out of me…

Dennis

(Stopping at the door). Oh, you have got to be friggin' kidding me!!

CUT TO:

THEME SONG.

FADE TO COMMERIAL.

FADE IN FROM BLACK.

Rec. Room.

Dennis is wrestling with Merrill, whom he has pinned down against the couch. Merrill is struggling to get free, and gasping for air. Merrill is uttering raspy pleas for help. Hilary is scolding Dennis in the background, and directing him to let Merrill go.

Mac enters through the door at the top of the spiral stairs. He is literally dragging his bag along beside him. Mac is staring at the floor. He seems to be in a whole other world. Neither Dennis nor Merrill notice. Hilary follows Mac with her eyes, momentarily returning her gaze to Merrill and Dennis. Mac reaches his office door. As he begins to step through it, Hilary interrupts him.

Hilary

(Sarcastic look). Mac, can't you see what's going on right in front of your face?!

Mac

(Under his breath). Well, that's definitely the problem, now isn't it?

Hilary

(She cocks her head). Will you please do some thing about this?

Mac looks back at Merrill and Dennis. Dennis is straddling Merrill and choking him. Merrill's head is repeatedly being banged against the couch. Mac continues through the door to his office.

Shot of Mac's open office door.

Mac

(Calling back into the Rec. Room to Dennis). Dennis, I don't care what Merrill did, but please stop killing him. I really don't want to have to clean the blood up again… We still haven't found a place to bury the last body.

Cut back to the shot of Dennis, Merrill and Hilary. Bradley Wente enters stage left. Dennis releases Merrill.

Brad

So that's what happened to Frank Chapman.

Bob stops right behind Brad.

Bob

(Puts his left hand on Brad's shoulder). Dude, I told you Chappy never retired.

Brad

(Smirks). I wouldn't let my defenses to far down, old man… You're next.

As Brad, Bob, and Merrill exit, Dennis mumble under his breath:

Dennis

I'll get you yet, Merrill O'Malley….

CUT TO:

Shawn Kunde storms into Mac's office. He stops in front of Mac's desk. He puts his left hand on his hip and points a finger at Mac with the other.

Shawn

All right, we all want to know what's going on Mac. Everyone in the house saw the way you drug in here this morning.

Mac

Its nothing… I'm fine; I'm just not feeling very well lately.

Shawn

Then I suggest that you either go home, or go lay down, because this is ridiculous.

Shawn turn on his heal, and begins to walk away. As he reaches the door, Mac yells out to him. Shawn does not hear, because he slams the door.

Mac

You can't talk to me that way!… (Shawn has slammed the door; Mac says this more to himself then to Shawn). You're just a lieutenant.

FADE TO COMMERIAL.

FADE IN FROM BLACK:

Mac sits in an armchair near the television set, in the rec. room. Dennis, Brad, Bob, and Shawn sit on the couch, which is also facing the TV. The TV is on and the guys are quietly watching the ten o'clock news. It is nighttime.

Heavy footsteps approach from the bunkroom. Move to shot of Merrill from the shoulders down.

Merrill

(Light, joking tone). All right guys, very funny…

Camera moves slowly up to reveal Merrill's face. A strip of heavy duty, fire department issue duct tape has been placed over each of Merrill's eyebrows.

Nearly losing his cool, Dennis cracks a smile. He shakes it off.

Dennis

(Visibly trying to keep a straight face). I don't know what you're talking about, Merrill…

Merrill scoffs.

Dennis

(Turns toward Merrill). What happened, Merrill!!! (Look of fake dismay). What in the hell do you have on your eyebrows?!

Merrill tries to drop his eyebrows to glare at Dennis, but the duct tape prevents it. His face is slightly distorted.

Merrill

(Angry frustration). I… DON'T… KNOW… DENNIS. I woke up like this, and figured that one of you might know how it happened…

The men are all quietly snickering. Most of the men are shaking their heads in reply to Merrill's question. Merrill sighs and turns away. He exits into the bunkroom.

Bob

(Turns so he can look over the back of the couch). Hey, Merrill, aren't ya gonna take it off?!

Merrill

(Leans through the bunkroom door). No, I thought I'd leave it like this. (Gestures with his hand). You know, make a fashion statement.

Merrill exits into the darkened bunkroom again. All the men sitting in the Rec. Room get up and also exit into the bunkroom. A few seconds after the last of the men enter into the bunkroom, muffled voices become audible, and there are sounds of struggle.

CUT TO:

Merrill is lying on his back on the Rec. Room floor. Bob Parker and Danny Logan are holding Merrill's arms down. Brad Wente is sitting on Merrill's chest, while Shawn Kunde and Scott Long hold his legs in place. Dennis Burroughs sits on his knees at Merrill's head. Dennis has one hand over Merrill's mouth. Mac stands by, slowly shaking his head.

Dennis

(He smiles almost evilly). Are you ready, Merrill?

Merrill begins thrashing about violently. Merrill screams, but his cries are muffled by Dennis's hand. Dennis grabs the edge of one of the strips of duct tape, and begins to rip it away.

CUT TO:

We show an outside shot of the firehouse. We then here Merrill scream, and see some pigeons fly away.

CUT TO COMMERCIAL:

FADE IN FROM BLACK:

Merrill is sitting on the rec. room couch, arms crossed across his chest; chin down. His face shows hints of anger. Large patches of hair are missing from his eyebrows.

Bob is going through some of the books on the shelf next to the pool table; he is still quietly snickering at Merrill. Dennis is sitting in the armchair staring at the TV. He is smiling, fighting back laughter.

Merrill

(Agitated). It's not funny…

Bob

(Still laughing to himself). Oh, come on, Merrill. It's a little funny.

Merrill

No, its not.

Dennis

(Looks over his shoulder at Bob. Under his breath). You know, he's right?

Bob

(His eyebrows go up). What?!

Dennis

(Still talking under his breath. He smiles). It's a lot funny.

Both of the men, this excluding Merrill, crack up laughing. Just then, the gong goes off, followed immediately by the bell. Everyone in the firehouse is breaking for the brass poles assigned to each truck.

CUT TO:

The trucks pulled up in front of a ten-story office building in part of the business district of Baltimore. Two other engines and two other trucks, along with ambulances on standby. Most of the firefighters are standing in or near the door way to the building, the EMTs are standing by.

Bob

(Talking into his shoulder mounted radio, while staring up at the building). No flames or smoke showing on any of the floors, command. Are you sure this isn't a false alarm?

Command

(Bob's radio crackles). 10-4 Truck 33. Report states that employees on the third and fourth floors smelled smoke.

Bob

10- 4 Command.

Mac turns to Bob willing a response.

Mac

What's going on, Parker?

Bob

Command says that employees reported smelling smoke on the third and fourth floors. No one reported seeing any fire or smoke. So far this is not a false alarm, Mac.

Mac

(Nods, and waves toward Truck 33). Round up the Ladder Company. Its time to find us a fire.

CUT TO COMMERCIAL:

FADE IN FROM BLACK.

Mac, Merrill, Dennis, Stephanie, Brad, and Bob all stand in the first floor stairwell. The ladder company stands in a small semi circle.

Mac

(Points toward the staircase). All right guys, and lady, lets head up stairs and find this thing.

The company picks up their gear and start up the stairs in a single file line. When they reach the top of the flight they form another small semi circle.

Mac

(Motions with hands). Steph, go left. The rest of you guys follow me.

Steph starts down the hallway to the left without question. Merrill lingers.

Merrill

Mack… Hold up a second would you?

Mack halts his crew, then turns and looks at Merrill.

Merrill

(Looks sarcastically at Mack, pointing a finger at him, and slightly motioning with that hand). Let me get this straight… You're sending Steph, by herself, to check out that whole sector of the four floor?

Mack

(Cocks his head, points his finger at Merrill, and takes a few steps forward). Are you questioning MY (points to himself) authority, Lieutenant?

Merrill

(Takes a step forward). YES, Captain, I am.

Mack

You like your job, don't you Lieutenant?

Merrill

Yes, sir, I do.

Mack

Then I suggest that you shut your damn mouth, and get to doing your goddamn job.

Merrill turns to Steph and gives her an empathetic look, shrugs, picks up his equipment bag, and starts to follow Mack. Steph turns and moves down the hallway in the opposite direction. When she reaches the place where the hallway turns right, she stops and looks back at the rest of the ladder company. Steph then continues down the dark and smoky hallway.

CUT TO:

Mack, Merrill, Dennis, Brad, and Bob are walking down the other hallway, in no order in particular. This hallway is better lit, and not so smoky. The men are not speaking. Brad stops and puts an ungloved hand on an office door. After deciding that it is not hot, he opens it. There is no smoke or fire. He walks in and looks around; this is the only room through the door he opened. Brad then returns to the group. Dennis feels another office door, and then opens it. This room is the same as the one Brad entered.

Merrill stops walking, the rest of the group keeps moving for a couple of steps, then stops and looks back at him.

Merrill

(Gives Mack at contemptuous look, while pointing at the group). This isn't right… We all know that it is the cardinal rule of fire fighting not to leave anyone behind or let anyone go off by themselves! And I think it's pretty ignorant of a Captain to send one of his fire fighters to do so. As far as it concerns you Mack Conners, you can kiss my ass. I'm going to help Steph, because I'm not going to stand for this.

Merrill turns around and starts walking away from the group.

Mack

(Glares menacingly at Merrill, dropping his voice an octave). Lieutenant O'Malley, if you keep walking, I'm going to file a 10-40 on you when we get back to the station.

Merrill doesn't react, he just keeps walking.

Mack

That's a direct dereliction of duty, Lieutenant.

Merrill

(He stops and turns toward Mack). Ohh, I know what a 10-40 is, Captain. It just seems to me that its you that's not complying with his duties.

Merrill turns around and begins walking again. Mack just stands silently glaring at Merrill's back for a few seconds. The other men all stand silently watching Mack.

Mack

(Looks sarcastically around at the group). Anyone else? Because I don't appreciate this little display of mutiny.

Brad and Dennis glare at Mack, then turn and begin to walk away. Mack's jaw drops open a little.

Mack

(Calling after Dennis and Brad). Go ahead and walk away… Don't think I won't write the two of you up the same as I'm writing up O'Malley!!!

Brad and Dennis wave a hand dismissively at Mack and keep walking. Mack turns to Bob, who hasn't moved.

Mack

Aren't you going with them?

Bob

I would, but it's the cardinal rule of fire fighting, that you don't ever leave a fireman by himself.

Bob bends over and picks up his equipment bag, then continues down the hall he and Mack are in; checking office doors along the way.

CUT TO:

Steph is standing in the door of the executive office at the end of the left hallway. Thick, black smoke is pouring from the doorway. Steph keys the mike on her shoulder radio.

Steph

Command, I have located the fire on the fourth floor. Heavy smoke and fire, I suggest striking out a third alarm. I need assistance immediately. Get me an engine company up here ASAP. Tom Blanchard's Office at the end of the left hall.

The camera angle sweeps to the right to film the hallway all the way to the corner. Merrill walks around the corner. The camera view changes to that of Merrill. Flames are rolling across the ceiling of the office Steph is standing in, and pouring out into the hallway. The flames continue down the hall toward Merrill. He watches them for a moment. You can feel the temperature rising steadily. These are signs of a "Flash Over."

Merrill

(Screaming into his mask radio). STEPH!!!!

At this moment, Merrill sees Dennis and Brad walking toward him. Merrill yells to them.

Merrill

FLASH!!!

With no time to think, Merrill dives for Brad and Dennis, knocking them from the left hallway. The three men are lying in the short hallway that connects the left and right hallways at the Stairwell door.

Merrill looks over his shoulder just in time to see the whole left hallway ignite, the temperature rising instantaneously from a survivable 400 degrees to a deadly 900 degrees Fahrenheit. He begins to crawl back toward the hall where Steph was, but Brad grabs him by the back of his turnout gear and begins dragging him to his feet.

Merrill

No… No!!! We have to go back!!!

Dennis

(Grabs Merrill by the front of his gear and looks him in the eyes the best he can through the thick smoke). Merrill, we all know that it is impossible to survive a flashover. Especially if you were standing in the heart of it!!! Now we need to get out of here, or we're gonna die too!!!

Merrill nods in compliance, and ducks into the stairwell with Dennis and Brad. He keys the mike on his shoulder radio.

Merrill

Ladder 33, O'Malley to Command…

Command

Go ahead Ladder 33.

Merrill

Ladder 33, reporting a flash over on the fourth floor… Firefighter down. Repeat, Ladder 33 reporting a flashover on the fourth floor, firefighter down. Request assistance immediately.

FADE TO BLACK.

TO BE CONTINUED.

END EPISODE 2.

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