Captain-Safe Tuna, Aerial Fears, and Drill Zealots

By Diane Feldman  


“Captain-safe” tuna
The rookies would always go to the supermarket for the rest of the firefighters. One day a rookie went to buy tuna fish for his captain. He came back with 6½-ounce cans. 
“Why didn’t you get me the 3-ounce cans? They’re cheaper. Next time, you better buy the 3-ounce cans!” the captain admonished the rookie.
So the next time the rookie went to the store, the 6½-ounce cans were on sale. He bought them for the rest of the crew, but he bought the 3-ounce cans for the captain, just as he was instructed!   
“I’m right behind you ….”
It was aerial training night for the probationary firefighters at the fire academy. When it came time for one probie to climb the aerial, he confessed he was deathly afraid of heights and couldn’t climb the aerial ladder. “C’mon,” said his instructor. “I’ll be right behind you.” So the hesitant probie slowly started to climb the aerial. When the probie was about halfway up, the instructor said to himself, “What am I, crazy? I’m not climbing all the way up,” and he started to descend. He made sure to yell louder as he descended, “Keep going. That’s good. I’m right behind you,” to compensate for the fact that he was climbing down! Sure enough, about 10 feet away from the top, the probie stopped and wanted to climb down. “Keep going,” the instructor replied. “It’s closer now for you to go up than to climb back down.” The probie finished climbing, about the same time that the instructor, who was “right behind him,” reached the ground!
“It’s only a drill”
The fire safety director of a New York hospital was conducting a simulated drill with hospital patients and staff. The staff was given instructions that it was only a simulation. An overzealous nurse got caught up in the moment, and no sooner did the drill begin then she began physically evacuating patients in their beds. Since the fire safety director was standing in front of a pull station to prevent any activations, the nurse went around the corner and activated the alarm in another wing, which in turn activated the fire department. When the bells and whistles went off, the fire safety director informed the nurse that she would have to meet the fire department at the elevator and explain. Afterward, he explained to her just what “simulated” meant!
The “19th Hole” on the Highway
There was a fully involved car fire on a busy New Jersey highway. The car’s two occupants were sitting on the curb after a “fun” day at a golf outing. Firefighters worked the nozzle to put out the interior fire, which left the car’s seats reduced to their springs. One of the inebriated car passengers came up to the firefighters and asked, “Will I be able to drive the car away?” The state trooper came up to him and told him to go sit down. Then the passenger asked if firefighters could pop the trunk so he could retrieve some valuables in there. They did, and he reached in the trunk and removed his golf bag. When he lifted the bag, water from the hoselines came pouring out at his feet.
A “rookie” civilian

A rescue company from FDNY was working a fire in the Bronx. One of the firefighters came out of the building carrying a screaming woman. She was yelling and hollering at the top of her lungs. One of the onlookers approached the firefighter who was carrying her and said, “Fireman, you’ll have to be patient with her. This is her first fire.”

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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