The competition for chief just got hotter
Credit: Eric McCandless/ABC
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When you fight fire for a living, it’s important to implement a buddy system. Stay in pairs. Work in sync. Get in and get out. Never be alone.

Ironically, when a firefighter is gunning for the position of captain, he or she must break that golden rule. It’s every man, or woman, for himself.

The test is called “The Incinerator” and it’s meant to push every skill it takes to be captain. The fire may be controlled in this scenario, but that doesn’t make it less dangerous. Someone actually died on Andy’s dad’s test day. Conclusion? Show the fire who’s boss. Other conclusion? What are the odds someone dies in this simulation?

Darling Ryan bounces over to the house with a good luck charm that has been passed back and forth throughout his friendship with Andy. I’d like to point out that Ryan looked incredibly handsome in his sweater and all sorts of awkward when Jack walks up to give Andy a ride. Interesting. Aren’t these two in a fight?

Why, yes they are. Gibson suggests they stay out of each other’s way and just keep their distance for the remainder of the day. With this handy information, the fact that they are carpooling makes zero sense.

Andy and Gibson are surprised to see dozens of local firefighters chomping at the bit to be the captain of Station 19. Not only is the station legendary, but it’s also the only captain position available. Chief Frankel is there to annoy everyone, as well as a surprise guest. Say hello to Fire Chief Ripley.

Frankel gives the details: Groups of four will enter the warehouse, extinguish the fire, and save the 200-pound dummy as fast as they can. There will be four rounds, all with different scenarios. Each firefighter will act as captain in one of the rounds. If you don’t save your dummy, you are automatically eliminated.

The participants are grouped alphabetically. What letter is next to G? That would be an H. Guess who won’t be able to keep a friendly distance from each other? Gibson and Herrera are joined by a musclular guy named Cole and a spitfire named Charlotte. Let’s do this.

Round One
To quote Gibson, “Cole is a tool.” Cole sidelines Charlotte and Andy for most of the drill, while the men do the real work. His favorite term of endearment is “hon.” Andy takes it with a grain of salt. Charlotte fights fire with fire and starts answering Cole’s orders with, “Okay sugar pie.” Other than the misogynistic undertones, Cole saves the dummy and all is well.

Round Two
Charlotte feels like she has a lot to prove. Therefore, she is careless. For example, she jumps over a fire because it’s a shortcut. She also sends Herrera by herself to find the dummy (girl power) and is rewarded with the fastest all-time record. Charlotte is officially the one to beat.

Charlotte expects a hearty high-five by her fellow female, but Andy keeps her hanging. According to Andy, Charlotte is dangerous. According to Charlotte, it’s called being assertive. She pushed Andy and Andy did great things. You can’t be the best if you coddle your team. Game on.

Round Three
Gibson and his team easily extinguish their fire, but no one can locate the dummy. After a few sweeps, with no discovery, Gibson pulls Andy aside and runs something by her. He’s going to leave the building without the dummy, because searching for nothing seems pointless. He knows it’s not there. Andy supports his decision. Hooray for the buddy system! The foursome pile out of the warehouse, slamming to the ground. They are exhausted.

They are also superstars. Fire Chief Ripley commends Gibson for not putting his team at risk in dangerous conditions. There was no dummy. And according to Ripley, Gibson was the first candidate to crack that barrier in five years.

This seems like a weird form of cheating, but I’ll allow it.

Round Four
By the time Andy’s turn rolls around, the entire warehouse is full of residual smoke from the other drills. There is zero visibility. Andy has a plan for the four of them to crawl together on the floor. A buddy chain, if you will. The building starts to crumble. Is this part of the drill? That answer would be “no” because part of the ceiling falls on Cole’s head. He’s buried under rubble. I knew someone was going to die. (Recap continues on next page)

Hold up. He’s just knocked out. Charlotte calls it in, without Andy’s permission. Andy’s team is instructed to leave the premises. She frantically orders Charlotte and Gibson to take care of Cole because she’s going to find the dummy. If this were a real life situation, Andy would never leave a person behind.

Gibson runs after her to help out (buddy!) and they burst through the exit door through billows of smoke, carrying one fake heavy man. Everyone applauds. Except Frankel. She berates Andy for breaking protocol when she was specifically given an order to leave. No one cares that she saved the dummy. This isn’t a game.

Ripley steps in to slow Frankel’s high horse roll. He reminds her that her job is to evaluate with an unbiased view. BOOM. He then looks at Andy and gives his spiel: Captains have to balance what’s moral and what’s practical. He understands what Andy did, but he doesn’t agree with it.

Andy is out of the race. Gibson is Station 19’s only hope.

Speaking of Station 19, Montgomery is acting captain for a shift and is taking his job very seriously. Victoria notices that he is not on the truck assignment and insists he take her place. She will sacrifice and drive the ambulance. Warren knows that she made the switch on purpose. Vic is still freaked out by fire. He calls her on it (buddy!) and she shuts that down just as the siren blares.

Well, this is new! A girl’s leg is stuck in a pothole. Her name is Piper and although she should be freaking out that her leg may have to be amputated, she’s more concerned with her best friend who is moving to New York. Piper doesn’t want her to move because she’s in love with her. Also, she doesn’t know how to tell her.

She asks the fearless women currently digging through the asphalt around her kneecap how they fight their fears. Piper looks at Vic in particular, since Vic was the one who jumped in front of Piper to keep the UPS man from running over her. Poor Vic can’t tell Piper how to face her fears. Because she hasn’t faced her own. Symbolism at its finest.

Piper’s friend breaks through the onlookers and rushes up to see what in the world is going on. Piper professes her love and they kiss. With Piper’s leg in the hole. Romantic. The ladies and Montgomery decide Piper has been stuck too long and jerk her out. She’s rushed to the hospital.

Back at the station, Vic shocks everyone at dinner by announcing that she’s afraid of fire and she needs help. It’s been going on for weeks and she assumes that her buddies will ask her to leave until she has control of the fear. Instead, they offer to do drills with her and promise to put her on the pump or hydrant in future jobs. Whatever they do, they will not tell Gibson or Andy.

It’s a good thing, too, because Andy doesn’t need any more bad news. Earlier in the day, her dad puked and looked mighty clammy. He told Miller he was leaving early (so unlike him) and asked him not to tell anyone. When Andy gets home, she walks into a dark house, calling for her dad.

He doesn’t answer. I truly thought she was going to walk in on her dad passed out or dead on the floor. Seriously.

Instead, we see Herrera walking into the hospital. He asks the nurse to page his doctor, Miranda Bailey.

The best buddy to have on standby.

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