Print Story What starts with "f", ends with "uck"
By johnny (Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 10:21:44 AM EST) (all tags)
involves shooting a fluid from a hard nozzle, and is a whole lot of fun?

Well, I'm officially a Tisbury fireman now.

Went down to the fire station today for the Sunday 10:00 weekly meeting and radio check. Got the following equipment assigned to me:
  • coat that weighs about a thousand pounds, covered with cool reflective tape
  • pants, ditto, complete with red suspenders
  • fireproof gloves that hook onto the coat
  • boots
  • helmet
  • bag to keep all this way-cool gear in
  • pager so they can call me 24/7 whenever I'm needed to save the day, just like Batman
  • nifty reflective "Tisbury Firefighter" thingy to put on my car above the license plate so everybody will see how cool I am and get the frack out of my way when I'm on my way to a fire
  • a personal information tag (red) for me to fill out with information such as my blood type, next of kin, whether I'm an organ donor, etc; which is to be laminated and affixed to my jacket so that in case a goddamn building falls on me or something they can identify me and know who to call
We had a meeting at which the chief (after introducing me to the guys, yay me!) described an upcoming special town meeting, wherein the selectmen have put two articles on the warrant about getting the new fire station built, inasmuch as the current fire station is literally falling down, has a leaky roof, not enough room for all the fire equipment, is in a flood plain, etc. Since any spending on the new firehouse would require spending money not in the budget, this will require a "Proposition 2.5" override, which means that it must go on the ballot before it can be approved.  So Chief was telling us how important it was for all of us to come to Town Meeting & bring all our friends and family, as the town has already voted this down twice, and the building we now have is actually condemned. And then he talked about some other stuff, meeting adjourned.

Then came the cool part.  Since the truck I've been assigned too, "Tower 1" is so giant fracking big (being the largest truck owned by any of the six towns on the island of Martha's Vineyard), it cannot fit into the fire station, so it's kept up at the vehicle barn at the Public Works Department a mile away, my company captain Russell, the the lieutennat Kenny (who is Russell's son) told me to drive up to the barn and meet them there.  So I did.

And I want to tell you, that truck is SO FRACKING COOL!

The first thing Kenny said was, "this is your new toy".  Then they put my bag with the fireman outfit in it in the cab, next to the other guys' kits. I'm really officially on the truck. Holy frack! I want to tell you the cab of that truck is itself as big as a whale.

Then we went around the truck and they showed me what's in all the compartments -- electrical cords, generators, hoses, ladders, axen, power saws specially designed for sawing through roofs, power saws specially designed for sawing through steel doors and girders, oxygen tanks, tarpolens, tools for ripping shit up and poking holes into flaming buildings, shovels, hydrant connector shit, valves, gauges, control panels, and a GIANT FUCKING TOWER LADDER THAT GOES 100 FEET UP.   I want to tell you, I was geeking the frack out like I was atreides with some miniatures or mns with a gun or something.

They say that it will take me a couple of months of drills just to figure out where everything is on the truck, and for the first year or so I'll probably just be a gopher at actual fires --"go get me one of these" "go get me one of those."  With a red tag on your coat you can only go to the staging area at and fire scene. After I've demonstrated to the captain & chief that I am not a fuckup, and after I've taken the beginning firefighter training, I'll be upgraded  upgraded from a red tag to a yellow one.  I don't know how many different colors there are & am not worried about it. I'm sure that there will be plenty for me to do. This is a seriously undermanned fire department. At the July 4th fire when these guys fought for 12 hours in 98F heat to prevent the whole damn town from burning down, only 34 guys were there. (Check out the photos in that article, by the way. Especially all the cool tower truck photos!)

But damn, in a few months time, I could be behind the wheel of that thing (which is larger than a battleship), screaming down the road, honking the air horn and blasting the siren.  I mean, I'm not hoping for a fire; fires are actually very scary.   But the next time a fire happens in this town, I'm going to it as a fireman. And I'll be riding in the coolest apparatus on this rock where I live.

It's been a pretty sucky couple of months around here lately. This is the niftiest thing that's happened to me in quite some while.
< Marriage in the air | Family History >
What starts with "f", ends with "uck" | 24 comments (24 topical, 0 hidden)
Have fun, my dad has been a volunteer by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #1 Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 10:24:58 AM EST
firefighter for his adult life and enjoyed it. He does traffic now, and let's the younger guys do the run into burning building heroics.

My father was a volunteer for 25 years by johnny (2.00 / 0) #6 Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 11:38:10 AM EST
where I grew up in New Jersey.  Way back in those days when dinosaurs roamed the earth, things were not as formal as they are now.  If you were a masculine child and your father was a fireman, then you were a fireman ipso facto, starting around age 15.   That is to say, I grew up hanging out a the fire house and going to fires with my dad, so that by the time I was 16 or so if I went to a fire, all the guys knew me and would give me things to do, even though I was not technically on the crew and did not have equipment, etc.  Especially at brush fires.  I remember going into brush fires with an Indian pack on my back. That was just the way it was done.

Nowadays of course things are much more formal. Towns are more concerned with liability laws and so forth.  In fact, I was kind of surprised that they didn't require me to get a medical clearance from a doctor.  I just had to sign a form saying that I was physically able to do the job, that I understood it could be dangerous, and that I was cool with that.

Buy my books, dammit!
[ Parent ]
A+ for volunteering! by clock (4.00 / 1) #2 Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 10:32:46 AM EST
fires are definitely not good things, but fire fighters are.  good luck and stay behind the hose.

I agree with clock entirely --Kellnerin

Please post more fireman diaries. by superdiva (4.00 / 1) #3 Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 10:56:36 AM EST
interspersed with life at home, of course.  I think I would be a great book.

Well, it may be an even by johnny (4.00 / 1) #7 Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 11:41:57 AM EST
slower proposition than my current slower-than-molasses book(s), but certainly I will write about any interesting fires.  I volunteered in August but only got officially accepted and assigned today. So I have been a fireman for a total of about 8 hours, have been to zero fires, and have had about half an hour of training.  It may be a while before I have much to say.

But I do plan to take some photos of the truck!  My first drill will be this Thursday.

Buy my books, dammit!
[ Parent ]
One of my co-workers by blixco (2.00 / 0) #4 Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 11:28:03 AM EST
is the chief of a volunteer department. Good guys all around, and effective.

Good stuff, man.  This is good.

"You bring the weasel, I'll bring the whiskey." - kellnerin
Oh, also by blixco (4.00 / 1) #5 Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 11:29:05 AM EST
when you open a diary with a firetruck coupled with that intro? I thought for sure your house was burned down. No shit, I laughed I was so relieved.

"You bring the weasel, I'll bring the whiskey." - kellnerin
[ Parent ]
My parents by ana (4.00 / 1) #8 Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 11:46:40 AM EST
were both volunteer firefighters, in the district where they still live, south of Denver. Nowadays there's enough of a tax base there (fastest growing county in the US, because Denver is pushing over the county line) to hire a few full-time firefighters, supplemented by volunteers. They're 84 now, and too old for that kind of thing, but I'm guessing they both did it into their 60s.

"And this ... is a piece of Synergy." --Kellnerin

Emergency! Emergency! *sqwak* by ad hoc (4.00 / 3) #9 Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 01:57:46 PM EST
Cat in a tree, Sixth and Main.

Cat in a tree, Sixth and Main.

All units please respond.

See woman in pink bathrobe on site.

The three things that make a diamond also make a waffle.
Calling Doctor Howard! by johnny (2.00 / 0) #12 Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 05:25:42 PM EST
Dr. Howard! Dr. Fine! Dr. Howard.

Seriously, when I went into the chief's office today I was impressed that the only framed photos on his wall are of the Three Stooges in fireman gear.

Buy my books, dammit!
[ Parent ]
Do they make a lot of aid calls? by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #10 Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 05:02:21 PM EST
Man, it drives me *nuts* when Seattle FD sends out a ladder truck for a guy with chest pain, which leads to some hot street-blockin' action. I wish they'd use the right damned tool for the job.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

I'll let you know. . . by johnny (4.00 / 1) #11 Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 05:23:48 PM EST
round here by LilFlightTest (4.00 / 1) #23 Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 01:57:45 PM EST
if there's no ambulance available, they send the fire ambulance, and a ladder truck has to go along (strange rules).

if de-virgination results in me being able to birth hammerhead sharks, SIGN ME UP!!! --misslake
[ Parent ]
Badass. by MohammedNiyalSayeed (4.00 / 1) #13 Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 07:06:04 PM EST

It's all about the gear. And the fire. And the gear.

You can build the most elegant fountain in the world, but eventually a winged rat will be using it as a drinking bowl.
But it's green! by herbert (4.00 / 1) #14 Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 11:06:18 PM EST
You can't have a green fire engine, it makes no sense.

How will anyone even know it's a fire engine?  If it isn't red it just looks like a lorry with a ladder on top.  People are going to think you're a roofer.

a roofer by johnny (4.00 / 1) #15 Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 02:06:15 AM EST
wearing one fucktonne of strange clothes and a badass Star Wars hat with a clear visor.

Buy my books, dammit!
[ Parent ]
Studies have been done. Numbers have been crunched by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #16 Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 03:48:27 AM EST
Apparently lime green is more visible to human brains than fire-engine red.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
there are five by johnny (2.00 / 0) #17 Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 03:54:44 AM EST
fire departments on the island of Martha's Vineyard, and each has different color trucks and firefighter clothes (you can see the mix in the photos from the fouth of July fire). The Oak Bluffs trucks are red:

But notice how tiny that ladder truck is compared to the majesty that is Tisbury's Tower 1, #551!

Buy my books, dammit!
[ Parent ]
How tall by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #18 Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 04:23:55 AM EST
is the tallest building on Martha's Vineyard?

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Probably about 4 or maybe 5 by johnny (4.00 / 1) #19 Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 05:54:37 AM EST
stories. The new Mansion House is 5 stories when measured from the back side. I don't think there's anything much bigger (unless you count the lighthouses). There may be a 6 story building in Oak Bluffs; I'm not sure.  The new ladder trucks are fully articulated and counterbalanced, which means they can bend every which way (see photos from fire), including going  sideways & down as well as up. I was told about one drill where they parked the truck on the edge of a bluff and the ladder was extended down below grade. It could also be extended out over the water if a boat caught fire in one of the harbors.

The Mansion House is built on the site where the old Tisbury Inn burned to the ground one winter night about ten years ago.  That happened before they got the new tower truck, and there wasn't a truck on the island with a ladder long enough to get above it. The whole firefighting that night was to wet down the adjacent buildings to keep the whole of main street from burning to the ground (actually, it's not very far at all from the site of the July 4th fire).

Buy my books, dammit!
[ Parent ]
MAN!!! by TPD (4.00 / 1) #20 Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 06:13:34 AM EST
That puts the F-INE in Fire engINE.

why sit, when you can sit and swivel with The Ab-SwivellerTM
Congrats! by duxup (4.00 / 1) #21 Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 08:09:16 AM EST
Our local FD has been asking for volunteers but I'm not sure I'm physically up to the job.

VFD? You rock. AND roll. by BadDoggie (4.00 / 1) #22 Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 09:06:20 AM EST
Kensington VFD in the '80s. Still, getting up at 4:12a.m. will always suck.


OMG WE'RE FUCKED! -- duxup ?

that is by Kellnerin (4.00 / 1) #24 Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 04:23:53 PM EST
100% pure awesomeness.

"Late to the party" is the new "ahead of the curve" -- CRwM
What starts with "f", ends with "uck" | 24 comments (24 topical, 0 hidden)