Thursday, February 17, 2011


     I saw a commerical on tv that talked about volunteer firefighter and volunteer fire departnments. It caught my intrest since I myself was a volunteer firefighter and was on the board of directors on four volunteer departnments in the mid 1970's .Actually the real reason for this particular post is that I want to impart a particular call that happened in 1978.Wait for it,as I will get to it shortly.
    First let me give a general backround of volunteer firefighting. Now what I say about volunteer firefighter and departnments is about the ones in the United States. However I would bet my last dollar that it applies to volunteer firefighter and departnments worldwide.Volunteer firefighting has been around since villages and town first spread across the landscape.At first it was just neighbors with buckets forming a line to throw water on a neighbors building that caught fire.Then when the hand pump came into being the first volunteer fire departments were created.Today in the United States there are about 26,000 volunteer fire departments ,with 73% of all firefighters being volunteer. These firefighter not only fight fires but also provide emergency medical care,rescue,prevention services along with civil defense,and diaster response and liaisons with local,state, andfederal agencies. They are and always have been the first line of defense against diaisters both natural and manmade. It takes a very special type of person who will place themselves in danger to serve and protect their neighbors.Cops and firefighters are a very special breed.
     Ok now to the tale of one small mistake.In 1978 the volunteer fire department that I belong to decided to hold an annual fund raising event. These fundraisers were the primary source of funding for the fire department.Anyway it was decided that the department would hold an annual holloween costume party. For months before that date in October every detail was forseen and address. The community building in the local county park was reserved ,notices about the event was spread to every person in the community.Then came the big night,and the community came out in mass to support the department. In anticaption of a possible call during the event we parked a rescue rig and a pumper close by.The party was in full swing when what we thought might happen did.A call came in about a car over the side of a hill,with the california highway patrol was on scene.That's when we realized that we made just one small mistake.Every member of the department was in attendence,but no one was in uniform. Every member was in costume.We looked at each other and struggling to hold in the laughter sprang into action. Now since I was the fire chief the rescue vehile was mine.I would arrive on scene,and take charge,provide emergency medical care if necessary. Now I was dressed as a white knight with chainmail and a large red cross on my chest. The fire captain that rode with me was about 6ft6inches tall and skinny as abean pole. Now he was dressed as Dracula white face,red lips,fangs ,in a 19th century suit with flowing cape.We took off to the scene of the accident,lights and serin blaring.Knowing the pumper would follow shortly with additional personnel.
     We pulled up behind the parked CHP cruisers and sprang into action. Now picture this,the CHP officers were down at the wreck and could not see us.All they could see was the flashing red and blue lights. Grabbing the medical equipment from the rig we jumped over the edge,quick stepping down the hillside to the wreck.The two CHP officers stood there with eyes wide open and mouth agape not believeing what they were seeing. A white knight and Dracula bounding down the hill towards them.Letting the officers know that we really were firefighter's and explaining that we were at a holloween party when the call came in.Then the pumper arrived at the scene. A clown was driving with a cave women in the captains seat. On the back of the pumper was a california brown bear and a hobo.What a picture we presented,to traffic that was driving by.Fortunely the accident victums were not conscious when they were pulled from the wreck and given aid..Unfortunely Dracula and myself had to accompany the ambulance to the hospital in all our splendor.
    Well that's it,one small mistake,and a ridiculously funny situation occured.I hope that you enjoyed the tale,I know every time I think of it I smile.


  1. I've been on a sort of reverse of this. i was acting as a casualty during a training exercise for the emergency services when I had a sudden severe asthma attack. I was trapped in a mock train accident. Up role the ambulance and fire crews trying to find a 'no duff' or real casualty in the middle of a bunch of about 50 people pretending to be casualties. And, of course, i was to busy trying to breathe to shout....

  2. I am really glad you were treated as a real casualty,otherwise the world would have suffered a real loss if you poetry and thoughts wre no more.

  3. Thanks Richard. I have never seen so many panic-stricken firemen. Even the ambulance crew running around with oxygen canisters. My collegues found it hilarious watching people with supposed multiple fracture leaping out of the way. I felt a right fraud because I only needed my inhaler but some twit got it out my pocket for me and dropped it under the train.