The Fire Yenta

By Diane Feldman


More on "Chuck and Larry"

Peggy Glenn, owner of the Firefighters Bookstore, writes: "I loved the Yenta item about Fire Engineering being in the movie 'I now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.' The set dresser came to our store and bought about 30 linear feet of books--no questions asked, tape measure in hand--for background in an office scene." (The Yenta is happy the prop department is striving for authenticity!) The movie opened July 20 and stars Adam Sandler and Kevin James as two FDNY firefighters who pretend to be gay for the "partner" benefits.

John and Barney

Julie Simmons, marketing director for Fire Engineering Books and Videos, relates: "We got a call for permission to use John Norman's best-selling book Fire Officer's Handbook of Tactics in the Barney DVD "Barney: Let's Go to the Fire House." How did the creators of "Barney" know to pick a winner?

We have a winner--a little early!

Regarding our contest from last month's Yenta column of who can be the first to spot the copy of Fire Engineering in the upcoming movie "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry," Battalion Chief Shawn Oke, Albemarle (NC) Fire Department, writes: "A copy of FE is sitting on the right side of the coffee table in the dayroom of the station when the entire crowd is sitting around talking. The copy is in front of the guys sitting on the couch. Kudos to FE for getting the cameo shot on the coffee table; it is the only magazine that is recognizable. The only thing better for FE would have been if the issue were hanging on the railing in the bathroom stall!"

When I asked Chief Oke how he got the answer when the movie hadn't even opened yet, he replied, "I watched the trailer and that scene happened to be in the trailer. You didn't mention in your column that the scene had to be viewed from the full length feature; you just said to spot the scene in the movie."

"I paid attention while attending class at the National Fire Academy. We had to do an exercise dealing with how our mind creates boundaries that don't exist. I was just thinking outside the box on this one. I actually thought you might be trying to trick us and see if we watched the trailer. Am I the only one that has noticed it?"

The Italian Firemen

(Thanks to David Handschuh, NY Daily News and FE photographer, for passing this along): One dark night in the small town of Garfield, NJ, a fire started inside the local sausage factory. In a blink, the building was engulfed in flames. The alarm went out to all the fire departments for miles around.

When the first volunteer firefighters appeared on the scene, the sausage company president rushed to the fire chief and said, "All of our secret sausage recipes are in the vault in the center of the plant. They must be saved. I will donate $50,000 to the fire department that brings them out and delivers them to me."

But the roaring flames held the firefighters off. Soon more fire departments had to be called in because the situation became desperate. As the firefighters arrived, the president shouted out that the offer to extricate the secret recipes was now $100,000 to the fire department that could save them.

Suddenly from up the road, a lone siren was heard as another fire truck came into sight. It was the fire engine of the nearby Lodi, NJ, volunteer fire department composed mainly of older Italian firefighters.

To everyone's amazement, the little run-down fire engine operated by these Italian firefighters passed fire engines parked outside the plant and drove straight into the middle of the inferno. Outside, the other firefighters watched in amazement as the Italian old-timers jumped off and began to fight the fire with a performance that was as if they were fighting to save their own lives. Within a short time, the Lodi old-timers had extinguished the fire and saved the secret recipes.

The grateful sausage company president joyfully announced that for such a superhuman accomplishment he was upping the reward to $200,000, and he walked over to personally thank each of the brave Italian firefighters.

A TV news crew rushed in after capturing the event on film. The reporter asked the Italian fire chief, "What are you going to do with all that money?"

"Wella," said Chief Pasquale De Luccinellavanti, the fire chief, "de fursta tinga we gonnna do isza fixa uppa de brakes on dat truck!!"

Wrong house, right time!

Recently, the news reported on one Massachusetts fire department that used the wrong house for training! Department members cut holes in the structure, took the windows, and conducted other drills in the home, virtually destroying it, only to discover they had the wrong house! The homeowner also had just gotten a loan to fix up the place. Do you know of any similar stories of the "wrong house at the right time"? The Yenta would love to hear them.

If you have a tidbit for the Fire Yenta, e-mail

Diane Feldman is a 19-year veteran of Fire Engineering; she is executive editor and FDIC conference director. She has a B.A. in English/communications. Previously, she was an editor at the American Management Association in New York City.

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