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Strange but true fire
that happened to me
is a lot written and created about the Fire Service that's pretty
heavy, serious and dramatic - some times TOO dramatic. Not
sure about you, but I've
seen so much to
laugh about while out "dueling the dragon", that I wanted to share some
of the lighter moments of this highly esteemed and time honored
the following will cause you to chuckle once or
|No sir, I
always drive like
this . . .
|The brakes on my
rig had just been changed, when we get a call. It had just started
raining minutes before, as
I nosed old Engine 59 out the door. I turned north, accelerating up the
as fast as I could. As I approached a 90 degree turn to the left, I
and began to apply the brake. Well, the brake pedal went straight to
floor with a gut
and stayed there. I immediately looked at the speedometer - 50 m.p.h.!
looked up for some place to crash land my now unstoppable engine - very
obstacles and houses on both sides of the road, so there was only one
to go - around that corner. I look to my left to see if anyone is
and yup! Wouldn't you know it? Big yellow school bus coming straight
me! I had about a half a second to prepare, and then it seemed as if
guided my hands, and I brought that big black steering wheel all the
around. Old Engine 59 shuddered and started to shake and groan loudly.
sucked in my breath and waited for her to roll, but I felt surprisingly
despite the thought that I was probably 5 seconds away from that big
station in the sky. But since the road was just beginning to get slick
the rain, instead of rolling, I put the engine into a sideways slide.
I'm looking out the officer's window, and I have the most beautiful
of the school bus, still headed straight for me. I overcorrect to the
with all my might and main, and now we are sliding sideways the other
way. I look out my window now
and I wish I could say the
improved. But no, the school bus is so close now I can see the face of
driver. Imagine seeing a fire engine, lights flashing, siren wailing
sideways down the road toward you. A thing of rare beauty, to be sure!
then I give the wheel one last mighty heave, and suddenly! Providence
Engine 59 back into the correct lane, and we shoot past the yellow blur
is the school bus. The driver's eyes were as big as silver dollars as I
by. I finally managed to stop the engine using the emergency brake and
front lawn. I think I shook for about three days after that one.
|Oh look! It's
human torch . . .
|OK, my Uncle
finally makes Chief
in a new department. To celebrate, my father (also an artist and
offers to decorate my Uncle's new white helmet with traditional
styled Fire motifs. He spends hours, right? After all this work is
steps back and thinks, "First fire the Chief goes into and all this
work is going
to get scratched off." So what does he do? Why of course, he puts a
of VARNISH on the entire surface of the helmet, to protect it! What
happened at the first fire my Uncle went inside on? You guessed it, and
said he looked like a giant roman candle as he came running out with
new helmet - fully involved.
|My first "big
one" . . .
Day, the call comes in, structure fire! My first one! I am so excited I
can barely keep the engine
on the road. Away we go, siren screaming, lights flashing, and as we
a captain pulls up in a department vehicle. As he gets into his bunkers
dons his SCBA, he yells out to me to back him up. Righto, I stretch an
and a half line and he's on the tip (where I want to be - oh well). The
is charged as we scramble to the front door of the house. Foul yellow
smoke is pouring out every crack and crevice, a dull orange glow is
in the front room, as Cappy yells back at me "Get down!" I'm thinking,
is it, this is the mythical "big one" I've heard so much about. Yeah!
adrenaline is coursing through my veins, this is living!
Cappy stands up, the door looks like it's locked and
I just know he's going to kick it in like in the movies! I hold my
breath as he stops, steps
back, bracing himself in an awe inspiring and dramatic pose and . . .
then . . . slowly reaches his hand out and turns
the door knob, whereupon the unlocked door quietly
open. My jaw drops, talk about anti-climactic!
. . .
|Dear old Dad is
going out on a
call, when what breaks loose in the cab of the Engine? The 5 pound fire
He tries to push it out of the way with his foot while he drives Code
3, (as it keeps rolling
around and around - up and interfering with the brake and accelerator),
but to no avail. So
he determines to knock it out of the way (now remember, he's going Code
3). With one mighty Kimball Kick, he deftly disengages the safety clip
and sends the unit flying, whereupon it hits the firewall and dispenses
its entire contents. Visibility drops to about 2 inches within the cab
in a matter of milliseconds, and everyone bails once the engine comes
a quick stop. Dad said he was completely white, head to toe, and,
say, drew some strange looks from folks driving by.
|We put the
"fire" in fireman
. . .
|I'm first in on a
vehicle fire, it's a vintage Volkswagen Bus pulled over to the side of
the road, next to
a hay field. The interior is engulfed in flame, so I pull the booster
open it up and poke it through a window. Engine 53 shows up a few
later, as I'm extinguishing the seats, but now the fire has extended to
engine compartment. Lt. on 53, "Pappy", the oldest fireman in the
department, quickly sizes up the situation. Pop the hatch on the back,
dump some water on it and we are all back at our stations sipping
lemonade in a few minutes,
right? WRONG! Pappy yells for a pike pole and one of the firemen holds
door open, and he takes the line from me. However, Pappy has forgotten
small but VERY important detail - all old Volkswagens have magnesium
engine blocks, and if you hit their engines with water while hot,
of extinguishing it, well . . . you will create sparks. Lots and lots
itty bitty little white hot pieces of molten metal! So in goes the
and WHAM!!! Our own miniature Independence Day! But wait, it gets
Pappy is concentrating so much on extinguishing the fire, he doesn't
see the sparks. Not even one! The brother on the pike pole starts
at Pappy that the sparks have landed in the bone dry field next to the
and started a field fire! We all start flapping our arms and screaming
Pappy to lay off the water, but the old fella thinks he is being
on, so instead of shutting his line down, he really opens it up and
it on! So then we had to take matters in our own hands, and scrambled
mad to put the field fire out. It took some desperate maneuvering and a
of work, but we doused it. When the VW fire finally sputtered out and
Pappy turned around and said with a proud grin to the sweaty, dirty lot
us standing in the blackened field, "See, nothing to it!"
Stooges join the Fire
Department . . .
|This one didn't
happen to me, but at Fire Department up the road a bit, a call came out
for a Motor Vehicle
Accident. The fireman scheduled to drive the rescue rig normally drove
engine. So when he pulled out, he was thinking he was the last unit out
the bay, as he would have been . . . if he'd been driving the engine.
was his habit, he hit the button on the remote which closed the bay
forgetting the fire engine behind him was still coming out of the bay.
NO! Thought he, best stop and get out and warn the engine of the
door directly above them, which they couldn't see. So out he jumps and
flapping his arms madly, but it's too late. I've been told the door
on the hose bed of the engine with a particularly disconcerting
Oh the shame of it all, but, hey, anyone can make a mistake, right? So
turned around to get into the rescue rig to pull it over... only to
it nose down 50 feet away in the ditch on the other side of the street,
wailing, lights flashing, it's rear wheels spinning around up in the
with no place to go! He'd forgot to put it in "park" when he got out!
style . . .
|You may not
believe it, but the department I started out in was the very first to
successfully attempt a
totally unique EMS procedure, hitherto unknown in the annals of pre
emergency medicine. No, really. You've heard of the Heimlech Manuver,
CPR, Rescue Breathing.
Child's play, I tell you. All those are nothing compared to this
technique. Here's how this wonderful technique came to be.
At the end
of a house fire one day, a distraught but now safe home owner begged
the lads to go back into her extinguished but still smoldering house to
her beloved dog. Every fireman nearby looked at each other with "that
know the look, the one that says - "he's a dead dog, ain't no way he
but this is somebody's mother, so we'd better make a valiant effort to
least retrieve the body of man's best friend" look - you gotta at least
right? Sure enough, the faithful hound was found, and yes, he had most
expired. But the fireman who found him was not to be deterred. Walking
and as solemn as a pall bearer, out the front door he comes with the
in his arms. All was going well until . . . he failed to negotiate the
of hose lines underfoot. He quickly began what looked like a Western
Dance gone bad, and in his effort to keep from falling he accidentally
the dog into the air, up, up, up . . . and right toward the waiting
Down went the fireman, up and then down went the dearly departed dog.
what was this?! As the dog hit the ground, the shock forced air into
lungs, and pumped his heart back to life! The dog sprang to his feet
with a yelp,
and jumped into his owners loving arms! Yes, it was all planned to
this way, of course, the first ever witnessed attempt at... Brief
for Canines, or
B.A.R.C., for short. True
|Duh . . . I
get it . . . now
. . .
Independence Day. I and another fireman are out doing our
patriotic duty, driving the Fire
Department's antique fire engine in the City Parade. In typical 4th of
style, the firemen draped the old rig with appropriate red, white and
bunting, and tied streamers everywhere, decorating it well. Yankee
Doodle all the way.
The parade starts, and were off! Down the street I drive, passing
throngs of happy fellow Americans. It's sunny and warm, a breeze blows
hey - I'm smiling and having a great time. But then the comedic scene
with yours truly as the unwiting lead actor (you can just see
something coming, can't you?). Off to my left I see some soldiers in
and as we roll by them, our boys all snap to attention at the same
second, and give us a sharp salute! I'm dumbfounded, I don't know what
do, this takes me totally by surprise, so I give them a weak lopsided
back. Why are they saluting me? I haven't done anything special. The
never taught us what to do in this situation. Then I pass some more
in uniform, and the same thing happens. I'm now thoroughly embarrassed,
fellas must have me confused with someone else, someone really
Either that or I really missed something last drill - I knew
I shouldn't have fallen asleep! About now I just want to
in my seat and disappear, but I manage a weak bumbling wave of the hand
at them. Hello! Oh! What I must have looked like! But it's not over -
more soldiers and the same thing happens all over again. At this point,
figure I've missed the official briefing at the beginning of the
so I figure, "Better salute back, you yahoo, or you'll ruin everything
make the department look stupid". And so I do. Mustering all my style
fire department finesse, I manage a snappy salute to each of our boys
uniform. It went great, so now I'm feeling fine, I am one of the boys!
Fi! Apple Pie! GOD BLESS AMERICA!!! But just as a tear starts in the
of my eye, the next group of soldiers starts to pass, and as I proudly
up and raise my hand to salute once more, I feel a painful jab in my
from the fireman next to me. "What the heck are you doing?" he hisses
me. "Returning a salute from the soldiers, of course" was my smug
with a proud grin. "You idiot" he said, pointing over my side of the
to the door I am resting my arm on. Just 2 inches below it someone has
a huge American flag, one I can't possibly see from the driver's seat,
all the world can see as we pass by. "Oh, man", says my rider as he
his eyes, "they're saluting the flag, not
respond to a structure
fire at . . . Station 52 . . .
|Many years ago at
Station 52 there
resided a fine young fireman (no, not me) who was particularly fond of
even more fond of smoking fish. Many a smelt was smoked on the back
of the fire station, to be consumed eagerly with smiles and thanks by
other fireman nearby, all thanks to this fireman. But what to do with
all those messy
ashes, he wondered? The idea came to him in a flash - there was a
just around the corner, that would do very nicely. What he had
from Firefighting 101 is . . . just because a fire looks like it is
mean it really is. So, into the PLASTIC bucket went those ashes, right
after a very good smoke job was finished. But now, what to do with the
bucket, he wondered? Oh, problems, problems. Can't put it into the
bay, the Chief might stop by for a suprise inspection. But this was his
lucky day, inspiration was coming hot and heavy to him. Of course! Put
the bucket of ashes right on the side of the building where no one
look, on top of . . . the bark chips. Why didn't he think of that
before? Pleased beyond words
with satisfaction at another job well done, he went off to some other
chore. A few hours later, he went outside to take in the air. But
of clean fresh ozone, he smelled the fireman's worst enemy...SMOKE! And
where there is smoke, there's fire, right? This was it, the Big Chance
been dreaming about, waiting for years for. He would extinguish this
it was even reported on the radio, and wouldn't the Chief be proud?
thoughts of medals on his chest and a citation from the Commisioners
not a promotion, too? Indeed, why not?) he set off in search of the
origin of the smoke.
his shock and awe as he rounded the corner of the station to find...
The station, HIS STATION, was on fire, the side of the building was in
He ran into the engine bay and fired up old Engine 52, started the pump
stretched a line outside. The fire was quickly extinquished along with
enthusiasm for smoked fish. Needless to say, after a bit of sanding and
fast paint job, this fire went unreported to anyone. But to this day,
say when the wind is just right from the south, if you're near Station
there comes to your nostrils a faint smoky fishy smell.