Stories

A fire in the appliance?
It was back in 1979, when I was a young and obviously rather naive telecine operator, when an incident occurred that to this day is indelibly etched in my mind....the day I wet my pants in uncontrollable laughter.  It was shaping up to be a normal day shift at DDQ, with the usual technical operator duties progressing along in readiness for start of transmission which in those days wasn't until around 11:00AM.  On this particular day, I was standing in front of the equipment racks making some video and audio patches when a senior female staff member connected with the manager's office came up to me and said in a somewhat subdued voice..."there is a fire in the appliance, you had better take a look now".  I don't think she knew my name, but I certainly knew who she was and understood the elevated position she held at the station.  What I didn't know was what she was actually talking about.  "Fire", I said..."where"?  "In the appliance" she replied, "you know...the incinerator in the 'Ladies'".  I didn't know, and proceeded to follow the first dumb question with an even dumber one..."what did you put in it"?  That was the last eye contact she made with me, but I somehow sensed that I may have said something slightly out of line, but still had no idea what we were talking about, only that I was headed to the female toilet with...yes, the 'boss's secretary', to attend to some sort of incinerator fire!  It was a fairly short trip to the toilets form telecine, requiring only a short walk down the corridor, past the canteen and engineering workshop, down a small flight of stairs and into the unknown.  Nowhere near long enough for me to process all of the possibilities that may face me, still with just the one image of an incinerator standing in the corner billowing out smoke, and threatening the safety of all concerned.  Try as I might, I could not process the reasoning behind incinerating anything indoors....surely that was a potential hazard.  When we arrived at the scene, there were a few other staff standing in the corridor outside talking with urgency in their voices, and for just a moment my chest puffed up realizing that I may in fact be about to save local television as we knew it.  Unfortunately, that glory was never going to be mine, as thundering down the stairs behind me was a fairly new maintenance technician shouting... "stand back"!..."fire"!  Under his arm was an extinguisher, and I knew right then that my glory was about to be snatched away.  I made sure I was a close second into the toilet however, ready for any Robin like support I could provide to the self-appointed Batman.  I was confronted with smoke, yes, and a peculiar odour I couldn't quite put my finger on, but the engineer had the situation under control.  He stiff armed me out of harm’s way and with an almost super hero voice declared "step back...fire"!  Then, with myself and a handful of other lucky staff members looking on, he proceeded to poke the nozzle of the extinguisher down into a box mounted on the wall and pull the trigger.  With that, there was a loud noise of the extinguisher venting its contents into a confined space, and an eruption of contents that shot upward and then downward, landing all over Captain Action.  It was at that point I realized what had actually happened, and what the purpose of this 'appliance' was.  This answered another question I had in my mind as I descended the stairs....'why don't we have one of these things in the male toilets'?   As the collective laughter began to build, I felt robbed of my chance at heroism, but this was quickly overtaken with the sheer delight in seeing the hero of the day turn to face the growing audience complete with the remains of a used (%^#) hanging off the corner of his glasses.  That is when I pee'ed my pants.  Potential hero to bed wetter in three minutes.

David King    

Hi Dave,

I'm glad to see that DDQ was as well resourced as WIN Wollongong. As well as the Rag machine my speciality was the coke machine.

cheers

Davyd

Davyd Dunstan - 26/11/2013 Add a comment
I was looking for a photo of the old station when I came across this story. It is hilarious, I laughed out loud. You were so young ernest and a lovely young man. Thank you for telling this tale, it is a ripper. 10/4/5a days - a remember them with great affection. Jenny Woodward (Mackie)
Jenny Woodward - 19/08/2015 Add a comment