On Land and Sea, Buffs Engage in Many Activities

On Land and Sea, Buffs Engage in Many Activities

Reports from around the country continue to show that fire buffing is no single activity. Rather, it is as individual and varied as the individual buffs themselves. For example…

With many miles of bay and river shoreline, handy to a metro area of several millions, eastern Baltimore County now has its own fireboat—the W. H. Wineholt. This 39-foot, 1000-gpm craft arrived for service at the end of 1978. First such vessel in the area outside of the City of Baltimore, the Wineholt has two missions: sea rescue and fire fighting. Its crew of four will include one paramedic.

Training in navigation

What has this to do with fire buffing? Someone had to train the fireboat’s 14 crew members in all phases of boating activities, such as navigation, marine rescue, and working with the Coast Guard. Two buffs from Baltimore’s Box 414 Club, both members of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, volunteered to spend two weeks, eight hours daily, as marine instructors. In return, at the crew’s graduation ceremony, the Baltimore County Fire Department awarded honorary officer’s badges to both men.

Baltimore buffs can boast a variety of talents, it seems. Box 414 member Harry Kremer is noted for his television appearances in conjunction with fire prevention programs. With other members of the club, he displayed his collection of model fire equipment on the Romper Room show, and has been featured in the past on both WJZ-TV and WMAR-TV.

Station converted to museum

Meanwhile, the same Box 414 group is continuing the work of converting the city’s Fire Station 6 (said to be the nation’s oldest active firehouse—built in 1853—when it was recently taken out of service) into a fire service museum. But this sort of thing is not only a big city activity. Another former Station 6, in Grand Rapids, Mich., is undergoing a similar transformation at the hands of the buff club there—the Box 321 Association. A 1926 pumper is being restored as centerpiece for the new museum.

On the West Coast, an already existing buff museum is being put to use for more than just display. In October 1978, San Diego’s Pioneer Hook & Ladder Association helped plan, and host at its Firehouse Museum, a special luncheon meeting to honor 28 San Diego fire fighters with meritorious service and exceptional performance awards. Master of ceremonies was PH & L member Dave Duea. Later in the year, the group hosted—and fed—the December meeting of the San Diego County Fire Chiefs Association.

From St. Louis, the Box 8 Club reports a novel project undertaken at their annual club picnic held in August 1978. The buffs held a “Hospital TV” raffle, with two color sets as prizes. Proceeds from the event will go to pay TV set rentals for injured fire fighters during their hospital stays.

Continuing a program begun in 1975, 22 buff clubs from Portland, Maine, to Phoenix, Ariz., have contributed money during 1977-78 to the National Institute of Burn Medicine. Other groups (like the Essex County Fire Wardens Association, in Massachusetts) are similarly supporting local burn treatment centers in their areas.

Programs vary

With so many different concerns, it’s understandable that the club meeting programs of buff clubs are also wideranging. Members become well acquainted with many more aspects of local fire problems than simply what companies may be first-due at the nearest box. An example from the agenda of one West Coast club: The featured speaker was an engineering professor heading a university fire research group. Besides showing films of tests on potentially dangerous household products, he hosted a tour of the research field station, then showed the buffs an actual structural fire test.

Other groups have had programs on developments in protective clothing, the workings of voice alarm systems, handling of airport emergencies, prosecution of arson cases, latest practices in burn victim treatment and statewide task force operations at major wildland fires. In absorbing such varied information, club members become better able to knowledgeably support all the activities of the fire services in their communities.

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