Author Topic: my buff years  (Read 3572 times)

Offline 69 METS

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Re: my buff years
« Reply #15 on: August 03, 2018, 12:39:44 PM »
                                              My Early Buff Years.

My early buff years were spent going to fires in Yonkers N.Y. It all started for me when I was  old enough to join the Civil Defense. In Yonkers we had a Civil Defense Rescue Squad, organized during the 1950’s. This was at the height of the cold war. There were squads all over the country, mostly manned by members of Veteran Posts.
        My father was named chief of the Yonkers Unit because of his experience as a fireman during the 2nd World War. His job was to fight fires during and after bombing raids. At one incident he was blown off the engine when an ammo dump exploded. It was also for his close association with the Yonkers Fire Department. As a child during the depression, he was always doing things with the fire dept. Being  from a large family, 11 children, food was pretty scarce. He started as a young boy running errands for the firemen at Headquarters.  Eventually they became like godfathers.
      In the late fifty’s, besides training and going to large scale drills, they started going to multiple alarm fires and emergences. We converted a work truck into a searchlight truck and also assisted in setting up fire lines. We would watch to see if anyone needed assistance. We weren’t there to do fire duty. It was forbidden to operate a line or even touch a hook.
      When I entered Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx at age thirteen, I was allowed to go to fires with the stipulation that I had to go to school the next day. In 4 years I never missed a day.
   Being that the two rescue trucks were stored in the quarters of Engine 9 in Yonkers, I was aware that we were guest in their house.  I treated everyone with the upmost respect. I never left the apparatus floor unless I was invited.  My father reminded me of whatever I saw or heard there, stays there.
   By going to fires I started to realize who the real hero’s in life were. It started me on a journey to where I wanted to become a Yonkers Fireman. I got to see some great firemen in a great department.  I was amazed on how much fire a 3 man engine co could put out, in a short time.
   My real buff days lasted until I went into the Army. Prior to being discharged from the service, I took the test for the FDNY. Having  a high number on the list, I also was able to take the agility test. Thank God I was in the best shape of my life. Being only  5’6”, my toughest event was the  8’ wall.  By shear desire and the grace of God, I was successful in going over the wall.
       After getting out of the service on August 8th, 1968 I got the notice that I would be hired by the FDNY. My first official day on the job was Sept.14th 1968. Hard to imagine that one month after leaving the Army at age twenty one I was on the job.  On this date 34 years later, my son Thomas was also appointed to the FDNY.  It’s true when they say it’s in the blood all 3 of my sons were on the job.
   I thank my parents for their love and guidance. I also thank my wife Madeline and my children for their support during my career.  Because of my love for the job and the FDNY, I was able to give my family a good life. Finally I thank God because without Him none of this would be possible.


Great story John. I'm privileged to have worked with you when we were assigned to the Animal House. Many great memories (fire duty, ball breaking and brotherhood.). You are well respected in the FDNY as an honorable, knowledgeable and experienced fire officer. I'm proud to call you my brother and my friend.

Nycfire.net

Re: my buff years
« Reply #15 on: August 03, 2018, 12:39:44 PM »

Offline johnd248

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Re: my buff years
« Reply #16 on: August 03, 2018, 02:46:25 PM »
Like Willy D, my father was to blame.  He was an early member of the Fire Bell Club and we had a Hallicrafters tunable radio that received FDNY activity, when it didn't stray off frequency.  I got interested in FDNY and rode my bike to the closest firehouse, E 248 at 2261 Church Avenue.  The men on watch always chased me away because they had a chief in quarters.  That made me go to E 281/L 147 where I was welcomed.  Used to go to the store for them and they would give me a soda.  Later, I worked in a bank on the corner of Flatbush and Church Avenues.  The brothers at E 248 had a problem cashing pay checks because the bank required each fireman to come in with his own check.  I knew most of them by then from going to jobs in the neighborhood.  Knowing that the on-duty crew could not come to the bank, I broke the rules and told others I would cash up to five checks per visit.  This worked, no one ever missed their money, and I got a free lunch in the firehouse every pay day.  I used to help pick up lines after a fire and was once invited to ride the back step back to the firehouse to get a cup of coffee.  In 1964, I was invited by the company captain, Bob Lindgren (father of 69 Mets on this site) to sign some papers, receive some training, and ride the rig any time I wanted.
Fifty four years later I am still responding to calls but let the younger ones do the firefighting.  My nine years at E 248 were an awesome experience: got to work with great officers and men, saw a lot, did a lot, and went where I wasn't supposed to go a lot.  I also became the "aide to the aide" for Battalion 41, rode with them occasionally, and worked typing fire reports.  As they say, the rest is history.

Offline fdce54

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Re: my buff years
« Reply #17 on: August 03, 2018, 08:10:44 PM »
That was great John. Now we wait for Uncle Wilfred's.

 My father was my Role Model. He was a firefighter in Bridgeport, Ct and at a very young age, he would bring me to the firehouse with him to pick up his pay check. As a kid, that was the thing I liked doing the most.

 A few years later, I would chase the fires on my bicycle. Sometimes I'd see my father at the job and I was sure proud of him. I would even tell the on lookers that my father is here fighting this fire.

 Later I was working part time as a clerk in a neighborhood drug store. A guy came in and for some reason, I just started talking to him. I told him that I wanted to get on the fire dept and as it turned out, he was a FDNY firefighter assigned to Engine 210 on Carlton Ave and they shared quarters with Rescue 2. He invited me down to spend the day at the firehouse.

 I couldn't believe it and for me, this was the Major Leagues. This was in 1968 and the FDNY War Years were just beginning. Then Lt Hamilton invited me down to spend some Saturday night with them. He also asked me if I had any friend, bring him too. As it turned out, I would bring my 13 year old brother and the two of us were both "hooked". We had been introduced to the busiest fire dept in the world.

 Crystal Radios just started coming out and we could hear the FDNY in Bridgeport coming in load and clear. We listened and tried to follow where the busiest places were. I remember going to Harlem because those companies were busy and those numbered streets were pretty easy to follow.

 A little more time goes by and the book "Report from Engine Co 82" comes out, so we get a map and find our way there. When we got there other buffs were already hanging out so we hooked up with them.

 From then on we were like drug addicts. The more we got the more we wanted. Meantime Bridgeport's work also started to pick up. We were chasing fires every night.   

 My brother and I also became volunteer firefighters in the adjoining town (Fairfield). It was a combination department and we all got along great. Many of the members, including at that time "johnd248" were all into it.

 I knew I really wanted to be a firefighter even though I had a good job as a letter carrier at the time. I took a few test and things just weren't working out for me. My buddy tells me about Norwich, Ct giving a test. I didn't even know where the place was. But as it turned out, I got the job on May 25, 1975. Everything ended up working perfect for me.

 It still allowed me to chase fires in NYC and Bridgeport. I was also introduced to Providence, RI where they too were catching their share. Of course I made a few trips to Boston, Newark, Jersey City, etc. But buffing the FDNY was the place I liked the most. I saw fires in these cities every time I went there.

 I could NOT have planned it any better myself. For any guy who was into the fire dept starting from a little kid visiting the firehouse with his dad, the timing in my life was perfect and I wouldn't change a thing.

 Today of course no more of those cold nights or hot summer streets for me. Running down those streets with camera and scanner in hand. I guess looking at it from around age 4 until now, I guess over 60 years of buffing is a pretty good estimate for me, maybe more.

 I was blessed with a wife who understood my interest. I was so proud of my father who once was awarded the Bridgeport Fire Depts Highest Medal - "The Gold Star" for the rescue of a squatter who I actually met years later in that city of 150,000 people. The fire trucks were going by and he told me those guys saved his life. I asked him about it and he told me it was a fire on Fulton St. I couldn't believe it. He was referring to my father.

 I had a great job where every once in awhile, we had a few buffs watch us work too. Today the guys that I used to watch fight fires back then have retired or passed on. Many of the guys I didn't know then but I do now. However, in a much quieter setting today I sure enjoy talking to them about my buffing days.


Young Willy D buffing:


Young Willie D in his father's car:


Offline raybrag

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Re: my buff years
« Reply #18 on: August 03, 2018, 09:26:50 PM »
Now, now, Frank.  You shouldn't disparage Mr, Doody like that.  I was able to find a long lost photo of Uncle Wilmern and his Dad that shows him in his Sunday best just before heading to church . . .



Ray Braguglia
Newport News VA


Offline nfd2004

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Re: my buff years
« Reply #19 on: August 04, 2018, 08:30:45 AM »
I guess maybe there is some resemblance to Mr Doody.

Also what I would like to say related to the Buff thread is a few years ago through this site member and good friend, Retired Chief Jack K “68jk09”, contacted that firefighter that I had met about 50 years ago from Engine Co 210 and  let him know how things had played out for my brother and I during that time frame.

How both my brother and I continued with our interest in the FDNY, and best of all, that firefighter Tony T had remembered us.

For myself and my brother the FDNY interest all started with a brief conversation between my self, a 17/18 year old kid working as a part time clerk in a neighborhood drug store and this firefighter.

Offline jbendick

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Re: my buff years
« Reply #20 on: August 04, 2018, 08:02:48 PM »
Thank you Garrett for those kind words. It always was a pleasure working with you on Jerome Ave. You always gave 110 percent whether working in the firehouse or at a job..But at a job you always strived  for much more. The department lost a potential great fire officer when you had to retire. Stay safe and keep the wind at your back. Love you brother.

PS. There will never be another Jerome Ave, what great memories 

Offline jmag228

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Re: my buff years
« Reply #21 on: August 04, 2018, 09:38:23 PM »
Greats stories that should be preserved. Certain there are many more out there. Thank you for sharing gentlemen.

Offline scoobyd

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Re: my buff years
« Reply #22 on: August 04, 2018, 10:23:37 PM »



Offline scoobyd

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Re: my buff years
« Reply #23 on: August 04, 2018, 10:26:22 PM »
I think the guy in the lower left of the picture above is a better "Woodenhead" aka Charlie McCarthy L 31.  Capt Farrell's LCC.

Offline *******

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Re: my buff years
« Reply #24 on: August 05, 2018, 07:20:43 AM »
The firefighter at the window is Lt. Tom Simmons, E82. Picture shows the pulled down tin that was used by the city to "seal" vacant buildings to keep vagrants etc. out. They later also used concrete to seal the buildings, windows and doors. It took the vagrants 15 minutes or so to gain entry in a vacant when they wanted to, concrete or tin. Then when we had a fire in a breached building it made the fire a hell of a lot worse, heat/smoke than if they had just left the buildings alone.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2018, 07:47:59 AM by ******* »

Offline nfd2004

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Re: my buff years
« Reply #25 on: August 05, 2018, 11:12:00 AM »
The firefighter at the window is Lt. Tom Simmons, E82. Picture shows the pulled down tin that was used by the city to "seal" vacant buildings to keep vagrants etc. out. They later also used concrete to seal the buildings, windows and doors. It took the vagrants 15 minutes or so to gain entry in a vacant when they wanted to, concrete or tin. Then when we had a fire in a breached building it made the fire a hell of a lot worse, heat/smoke than if they had just left the buildings alone.

Yes Chief, I remember seeing the guys trying to breach those bricked up windows and doors, using sledge hammers and knocking out one cider block or so at a time. Or trying to rip that large piece of tin from the numerous windows, to gain entry or for firefighters in there to exit in a hurry. Plus venting the fire floor or apartment was just about impossible.

At the time, other firefighters from outside the area would comment how much more difficult this already very difficult job became.

Regardless of what the city did, those squatters found a way to get into those buildings. So every building I’m sure had to be considered occupied

Offline JohnnyGage

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Re: my buff years
« Reply #26 on: March 18, 2019, 09:22:12 PM »
Great stories, it is fascinating how a simple sight, word or action can turn the course of events. My dad was the one who made the lightbulb go off in my head. I was always interested in the fire service at a young age. At this time around 16 years old I was riding with Uncle Jack in Ladder 31 and a junior firefighter in my local town. Loved what I was doing. My dad was a union electrician on Long Island, and me, the first born son was going to be, you guessed it, an electrician. One evening after dinner, dad takes me to the workbench downstairs (for once on good terms). Here he has rigged up electrical light sockets and plug receptacles. He is demonstrating how to connect wires to these pieces, giving me the low down. "What's this about" I ask, and he tells me about my future to become the next family sparky. Sorry I tell him, but I've decided that I'm going to be a NYC firefighter like Uncle Jack. He took it well, of course a little disapointed, but well. Then he gave me this "golden nugget" jem of advice; "Don't put all your eggs in one basket". Eureka, that was probably the most simple but prolific statement I have ever heard from him.  I bought a new ribbon for my Olivetti typewriter, paper, stamps and envelopes. I bought an atlas, jotted down the cities likely to have a paid department. I proceeded to write letters to various civil service agencies in a five hour driving radius from Long Island inquiring about upcoming fire department test in their locality. I would specifically ask about age and residency requirements. Many places would state no exam is scheduled at this time. I would write again in 6 months for followup and kept meticulous records, this went on for a few years. I was spreading my eggs all over the east coast. I encouraged my volunteer firefighter buddies who had the same desire to have a fire service career do the same letter writing campaign and we created a network. A couple of months later I got my drivers license. I took tests in Providence, New Haven, Milford, Bridgeport, Cleveland (liitle more than 5 hour drive!), Albany, Anne Arrundel County, Philadelphia, Washington DC and NYC, (probably missing a few). I had good scores on all. My buddies were also on various lists. As fate would have I was called by Washington DC Fire Department at 22 years old summer of 79, and so were three of my buddies!. I spent three wonderful and exciting years there (the NYC list was frozen for most of that time because of court order) awaiting for my next big venture and call from the FDNY. Got that call in 1982 and it has been a wonderful journey since. Thanks dad for that nugget! My three buddies now retired, made outstanding careers in the DCFD (we still stay in touch) and my younger brother became the next family sparky!
« Last Edit: March 18, 2019, 09:38:22 PM by JohnnyGage »

Offline nfd2004

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Re: my buff years
« Reply #27 on: March 18, 2019, 10:51:21 PM »

[/quote]


Young Willy D buffing:


[/quote]

 As a kid growing up in the 1950s, I went to Catholic Grammar School.

 Of course anybody that went to Catholic Grammar School in those days can tell you how tough those nuns were. So a few years after that picture (above) was taken, Young William, aka Willy D, isn't really doing too well in school. I think its about the 4th grade and Sister Mary O'Brian (the name still brings fear) gives me a note to take home saying that one of my parents needs to come in and talk to her - in person - to get this kid on the right track and never mind his playing games in class.

 Well friends the moment comes when I am about to face one of those moments of fear that a young kid never forgets. With my father on one side, Sister Mary O'Brian on the other side, and me in the middle, my moment of fear has kicked in to it's highest level.

 Then the question comes up. Sister Mary O'Brian asks me: "William, what do you want to be when you grow up" ? I said "I want to be a Fireman". I look at my father, who is a fireman at the time, and he's just shaking his head. That's NOT really what she wanted to hear. I later learned that she wanted to hear; "a priest, a lawyer, or a doctor". I certainly respect them for the job they do. But that's not what I wanted to do.

 Well, I never did become a priest, doctor, or lawyer. I didn't get to make the big money like a doctor or lawyer would. But they didn't get to ride Norwich, Ct's Squad "A" either like I did.