Fire Yenta 8/30/02

Left behind
Captain Robert Kerr of the Greenville Fire District in Greenburgh, New York, relates this story: “We had a call one night for a smoke condition in a single-family residence. It was at the farthest end of our district. We searched the house but could not find the smoke source. It turns out that, the son of the homeowner came home, parked his car in the driveway, and his fan belt had burned–so it was generating smoke that had entered the house.

“Just then, we get a call from a ‘regular’-an elderly lady who calls often-for a problem with an appliance. But at this second call, I discovered that I left my helmet in the driveway of the first call. So I asked the engine to go back and get it. But then the ladder decides it would go back and get it, because it was blocking the engine in.

“I came out of the house expecting to see two big red trucks parked outside, and there’s nothing there. Both the engine and the ladder are gone-they both went back to get the helmet, not knowing the other was getting it! Luckily, an assistant chief arrived in his car and gave me a ride back to quarters, at which time I radioed to the engine and ladder, ‘Don’t worry, the on-duty officer is back in quarters!’ Now I know how Custer felt!”

You can lead a horse…
John A. Jeffries, Coordinator, Fire & Emergency Services Training Institute, St. Clair County Community College, Port Huron, Michigan, writes: “Do you know why the old fire stations had spiral staircases instead of stairs? I learned the answer from some Lexington (KY) firefighters. Years ago, horses would actually climb the stairway. Getting a horse down was another problem. Spiral staircases prevented this from happening. As of the 1980s, an engine company in Lexington still used its spiral staircase.”

International interest in 9-11
The international press/media seem much more intrigued with the technical aspects of the World Trade Center attack than are their American counterparts, says Glenn Corbett, our technical editor. Recently, he has spent hours taping in-depth interviews with broadcast and print media from Japan, Germany, France, Italy, and Belgium on such topics as high-rise firefighting, evacuation, and the collapse of the Twin Towers. The media usually get his name as an “expert” through John Jay College, where he is a tenured professor. The American media, according to Corbett, apparently are only interested in 5-second sound bytes.

And the winner for most apparatus mishaps is…
Our Web editor, Chris Mc Loone, who volunteers in a suburban Philadelphia fire department, might hold the record for most apparatus mishaps.

His department has two engines and a rescue. On one pumper, he broke the light tower twice just trying to put it up. He also broke the electric throttle for the pump just trying to throttle up the pump.

A belt snapped on him in a parade and overheated the truck. Not realizing that the belt in question was the fan belt, he threw the into high idle whenever the parade stopped, so the fan would cool the engine down. But since it was the fan belt that broke, he was actually heating the truck up. Later, he was taking the truck to put fuel in it at the township yard, got 200 feet away from the fuel pump, and the truck died because the computer went. It was determined the overheating might have made the computer go.

He was driving an old rescue truck to another call. He had to drive down a hill, make a left, and accelerate up a hill. He was ready to make a left at a light and had a green light, so he didn’t come to a complete stop. But going down the hill, he heard a thud. As he made the turn, he tried to accelerate up the hill, and nothing happened. The transmission dropped.

On the other pumper, the company stores foam in the compartments on either side of the hosebed. The foam jugs got pierced by the corner of another compartment that jutted into the compartment. Foam started running down into the electrical compartment into the electrical panel. From the driver’s seat, he saw bubbles coming out from the compartment door.

After troubleshooting these incidents, the department determined they were not “Mc Loone-induced.” “I was always just in the wrong place at the wrong time, Mc Loone says. “At an awards dinner, our Chief Engineer said that I never actually broke anything–trouble just seemed to find me.”

FDNY Memorial Service October 12
People have been contacting our Web site asking for more information about the 9-11 memorial service scheduled for October 12 in New York City. We have not received any additional information since the original announcement. I urge you to confirm through FDNY if the memorial service will still be held. Last year a similar service was cancelled after many people had already made travel arrangements. People have also been asking us where to stay in the New York metropolitan area. I suggest staying in New Jersey and taking public transportation into Manhattan.

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