Fire Life

Looking For Buried “Treasure”

By Diane Feldman

From Lieutenant Jay Moltenbrey, Windham (NH) Fire Department: Years ago our department and our neighboring Salem (NH) Fire Rescue (SFR) conducted a joint training burn. The site was an abandoned motel, and the former office that was converted into four apartments. To maximize the training in minimal time, Windham (NH) Fire Department used the converted office for its evolutions, and SFR used the 12-unit strip-style hotel for its evolutions.

After a morning full of room fires in the office and the motel, we burned both to the ground and were just mopping up what we considered to be a very successful training burn when I noticed something I thought was strange. A SFR deputy chief was using a pike pole to poke through the rubble. Although this was odd, I let it pass. SFR is a fully paid department with 60 to 70 firefighters–rarely would a deputy have to do such a “menial” task.

About five minutes later, the assistant chief joined in the labored task of overhaul on the sparse but smoldering remains of the motel. Not wanting to let such a golden opportunity pass without comment, I walked over to see such highly skilled officers operate. I commented on how budgets in Salem must be extremely tight if chief officers (not entitled to overtime) were assigned cleanup detail. The only response was a sheepish smirk and a quick dismissal. 

I went on with my business and would have not though about it again if it were not for the fact that the next time I looked up, all of the SFR firefighters left on the scene were now picking through the pile with what appeared to be fierce  determination.  I approached the deputy again and asked if our department could assist them in any way.  The area they were in appeared to be well extinguished, but they were working at a fevered pace, so I made the offer.

The deputy turned and asked, “You haven’t seen a thermal imaging camera, have you?” I was horrified and blurted out, “You didn’t leave you your camera in there, did you?” He said, “No, we didn’t leave our camera in there.” I was greatly relieved until he continued, “We left the camera the salesman left us to evaluate in there.”

I could imagine his memo to the chief: “Dear Chief, the thermal imaging camera we evaluated at this weekend’s training burn work superbly right up until we burned it to a crisp. P.S. Can you find $20,000 in the budget for an unexpected training expense?”
They did find the charred shell of a camera, and the deputy placed it in the shiny new protective case that it came in.

Tips for bear season

Did you know Smokey Bear’s image and use are tightly controlled? He’s the property of the USDA Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters, and the Advertising Council. He’s even got federal legislation, the “Smokey Bear Act,” which says failure to get permission for Smokey’s use will cost you $250 and maybe six months in jail.

To ensure consistency in all uses, there’s a Smokey Bear style guide, which includes the official rules and regulations for the bear whether he appears in print or on the street. It describes how he must be dressed, the color of his pants, and the acceptable range for his expressions.

Quote of the week:

Here’s a good basis for a “mission statement” for the fire service, heard at a previous FDIC in Indianapolis: “Our mission never changes. We protect and defend our neighbors from ANY HAZARD.”

Photo found on Wikimedia Commons courtesy of Jonathan Clemens.


The Yenta
Diane Feldman, a 22-year veteran of PennWell Corp., is executive editor of Fire Engineering and conference director of FDIC. She has a B.A. in English communications. She has been a yenta (look it up) for most of her life. If you have a story for the Yenta, e-mail [email protected].