Never Trust the Cops!

By Diane Feldman

Never trust the cops!

The volunteer chief of a suburban New Jersey department was responding to a call; when he arrived at the street, he was greeted by a police officer at the entrance to the block. The chief looked down the block and saw what appeared to be smoke coming off the roof of a house. The police officer said, “Chief, I think everyone is out of the house, but you have a job on the second floor.”

It was a weekday, which meant limited staffing, so the chief called an automatic second alarm, which would bring three out-of-town trucks, including a FAST.

The police officer tapped the chief on the shoulder and said, “Oops. Steam.”

The chief said, “Steam? What do you mean, steam?”

It had just rained, and when the sun came out, it caused steam to rise off the roof of the house!

The chief said, “That’ll teach me to trust the first-due cop!”

Check the date!

A platoon of firefighters were in a “pool” for weekly “Pick 6” lottery tickets. One morning, one firefighter bought a ticket using the previous night’s winning numbers. He put it in their pile of tickets to be checked against the numbers published in the local newspaper. To the disbelief of the unsuspecting firefighter who was checking the tickets, he saw one of the tickets had the winning number! He had no reason to double check the date on the ticket. The guy started screaming and yelling, telling everyone he was quitting his job. Finally, the others told him that the joke was on him! 

Sumo wrestling for a good cause

From Aaron Feldman (the yenta’s “honorary” brother), battalion chief (ret.), Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services: A rather unusual event took place at the headquarters a few years ago—a Sumo Wrestling competition to raise money for charity. The department acquired the Sumo wrestling suits, headgear, and regulation mat. The apparatus were moved out of the bays and the event took place during lunch hour on the apparatus floor.

A host of members, ranging from firefighters to deputy chiefs (including civilian staff), signed up to get in the suits and wrestle. All the competitors had unique names (and bios). Some of the pairs announced were Dr. No vs. Junk Food Junkie, Mrs. Jiggles vs. The Crusher, Spirit Man (the department chaplain) vs. Notorious Natalie, and The Enforcer vs. The X-Communicator, to name a few. The names were very apropos to the individuals.

Admission was by donation. Hot dogs, chips, soft drinks, and donuts were for sale. All the proceeds went to the charity.

Blood, blood everywhere!

From Lieutenant Michael Ciampo, FDNY: “We responded to an auto accident involving a single car. As I approached the scene, I called for the EMS bag because the patient was bleeding heavily from the face and upper torso. We immediately cut open his shirt to find the severe wound that was causing so much bleeding. As we cut his T-shirt off, the chauffeur turned on the large spotlights for better visibility. Much to our surprise, the victim was just covered in paint–RED paint. He was a painter, and his car was full of painting supplies. Ah, the importance of size-up!”

Again, size-up counts!

A fire department in New Jersey received a call for a possible fire on the second floor of an occupied multiple dwelling. The first-due engine company pulled up. The officer radioed Headquarters that he saw fire on the second floor and that they were stretching a line to the building. Around 30 seconds later, in a much quieter, lower tone of voice, he radioed the incoming chief, “Forget the last radio transmission.”

There was some sort of ceremony going on in the “fire” apartment. The family had put one of those fake waving flames (that you can purchase at a party store) by the window for effect.

The officer of the engine company took ribbing for weeks. He offered a class to neighboring departments on the importance of proper size-up.

The Yenta
Diane Feldman, a 21-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

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