Fire Life

Unusual Calls

By Diane Feldman

From Lt. Mike Ciampo, FDNY:

After getting a knock on the door of the firehouse from a person who locked his keys in his car, we drove up a few blocks to the location. The person was standing on the corner waiting for us as we pulled into the block. I asked him which car was his, and did he have the proper identification? He pointed a few cars up as he began to hand me his license. 

I approached the car I thought he pointed to and said, “This one?”

He replied, “No, that one,” pointing.

I turned my head and said, “This one?” with my eyes wide open.

He said, “Yes.”

I thought, you have to be kidding me! I walked up to the vehicle and said, “You see this? It’s a zipper.” I unzipped it. I said, “You can climb in your soft-top Jeep and get your keys.”

His response: “Oh, I didn’t know how that worked. I just bought the thing,” as he handed me the registration, which was months old.

Just another “assist a civilian” run!

From a northern New Jersey department:
We had a call of a vibrating noise coming from a wall. On investigation, we found that an occupant of the home had hidden a sex toy in the wall, which had accidentally turned on!     

From EMS Technical Editor Mike McEvoy, Saratoga Springs, NY:

I went on a call with the engine-rescue for an eight-year-old bicyclist struck by a car.  The child was lying in the roadway, not seriously injured, but with a broken leg.  A neighborhood dog had arrived and was barking at the child threateningly and attempting to nip at his arms.  To distract the dog, I enticed him away with a dog biscuit I carried in my turnout coat (specifically for such occasions).  The next thing I knew, I had over a half dozen neighborhood dogs jumping on me, all apparently in search of dog biscuits.  Unfortunately, I had only three biscuits in total.  It was not a pleasant wait for the ambulance to arrive.

From a southern department:

Firefighters responded to a report of a fire in a motel. On arrival, they found dark smoke rolling across the roof of the two-story building and transmitted a report of a working fire. Engine companies laid large-diameter supply lines into the scene while firefighters forced entry to  the building. Once inside, they reported that the motel room was clear of smoke but, because of the smoke issuing from the roof, believed that they had a fire in the attic. This called for decisive action because they suspected that the attic extended over the entire wing of the motel without any fire rated separation. Firefighters, therefore, advanced a charged hoseline to the second floor and pulled ceiling to reach a fire that they were certain was in the attic. To their disbelief, they found the attic clear of smoke; where was the smoke coming from?  It turned out that there was a crematorium directly behind the motel and a cremation was in progress. The funeral director explained to firefighters that the person being cremated was very obese and apologized for the abnormal amount of dark smoke.

Do you have an unusual call you’d like to share? E-mail the details to the Yenta ([email protected]), and it just might appear in a future column.

Photo found on Wikimedia Commons courtesy of Rabensteiner.


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].