Fire Yenta 1/24/03

By Diane Feldman, Managing Editor

Ice cream soup, anyone?
From Ron Kanterman, chief, Merck & Co., Rahway, NJ: A few years ago, a most beloved FDNY lieutenant from a Brooklyn, New York, firehouse took and failed the captain’s test. He was sad, but his men were elated, because had he passed the test and gotten promoted, he’d be shipped off to another house. So, on the way back from a run, the men stopped and got an ice cream cake and had written on it “We’re F—– Happy.” When they got back to the firehouse, they told the probie, “Hey, this cake is as hard as a rock. Put it in the microwave for five minutes so we can cut it.” Well, five minutes was A LITTLE TOO LONG. The cake became ice cream soup. The members slapped the probie on the head and made him go buy another ice cream cake with his own money.

Lesson: Be careful what you tell the new guy to do-he just might do it!

That’s not a window!
From Carl Westbrook: I work for a small department in Texas. We are a paid/volunteer department. One morning, we got toned out for a working structure fire. On the way to the scene, we had numerous reports of flames visible. On our engine were two paid personnel and one new hot zone cleared firefighter. We arrive on-scene, and my captain sends me in with the new guy. Going through the door, we encountered smoke that was almost to the floor. We crawled for a short period of time, and I told him to find a window and clear it out. He instantly broke glass. Figuring the smoke would lift shortly, we moved on.

As I attacked the fire, the smoke conditions did not changed. I repeated my order to my partner to clear a window, and again, after a short time, I heard glass break. At almost the same time the roof team opened up the roof. When the smoke cleared, I saw the two windows the rookie had opened. The first one was a 32-inch TV set, and the other was an empty fish tank. After a few years on the job, I can say that I enjoy working with this person more than anyone in the world.

Man in tub
From Lieutenant Michael Ciampo, FDNY: We had a run the other night and found a guy lying in the bathtub, wearing only his underwear, covered in plaster that apparently fell from the ceiling while he was taking a shower. Now, if he was showering, why he was in his underwear? Maybe saving on the cost of laundry? Then again, why was he perfectly dry if he was showering?

When we asked his name, no one in the apartment knew him. Then we were really confused: You have some strange guy lying on the floor of your tub, clad only in his underwear, and you don’t know him?

Lesson: Sometimes this job is stranger than fiction!

It’s not polite to point
From Tom Kiurski, Livonia (MI) Fire Department: A few months ago, fire crews responded to a report of a multi-vehicle accident in Livonia. A young mother was driving with her young child in the car when she hit several cars as well as a police car in the parking lot in front of the accident. After firefighters finished caring for a few minor scrapes and doing paperwork, a police officer on the scene asked the woman driver how she happened to run into the cars next to her. She explained that she was telling her child, while pointing to the police car (and not watching where she was headed), that the police give tickets to people who do stupid things. The child asked where the police car was and the mother turned her body and continued pointing for the benefit of the child. That’s when her moving vehicle hit the cars traveling beside her. The police officer tried not to laugh too hard as he handed her the ticket.

Quote of the week
Marc Shaw, New York City deputy mayor for operations, during a daylong budget conference sponsored by the Citizens Budget Commission, speaking about FDNY: “… they only fight fires 5% of the time; they’re hanging around doing nothing the other 95% of the time…”

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Diane Feldman is a 13-year veteran of Fire Engineering; she has spent the past 12 years as managing editor. 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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